How they roll—fun and energy to spare

Although their season has come to a close, Prairie du Chien’s State Special Olympics participants are still celebrating their tournament placings with coach Levi Prine (left). Darrin Fortier (right) took sixth place, while James Ritchie (middle) earned third. (Photo by Caitlin Bittner)


By Caitlin Bittner


Area athletes once again brought home wins, this time from the 2013 Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) State Fall Sports Tournament. Both James Ritchie and Darrin Fortier, along with their coach Levi Prine and several volunteers, participated in the Dec. 7 challenge.


The season began in mid-September with practices on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Prine, who was asked to fill in as coach this year, said that while there was a lot to learn and a lot of new people to meet, the experience has been worth it. “I wanted to give some time to these guys,” explained Prine.


Regardless of his inexperience with the position, Prine stepped in and helped 30 Prairie du Chien Special Olympics members improve their bowling skills and prepare for the La Crosse Regional Tournament. Eleven of Prairie du Chien’s participating athletes scored high enough to move on to the sectional tournament held in Sun Prairie on Nov. 2. After the tournament in Sun Prairie, only Ritchie and Fortier were left to compete for the championship. At the Dec. 7 tournament in Wauwatosa, Ritchie scored third place.


“It felt good [to place]. I was surprised. I didn’t think I could do it!” said Ritchie. 


Fortier also participated in the state tournament, earning himself sixth place. His favorite parts of competing were achieving strikes and spares, as well as making new friends. “I like knocking 10 pins down,” added Fortier, smiling.


It was easy to see the enthusiasm that they have for the game in the way their faces lit up when talking about strikes, spares and making new friends. “I love bowling,” said Ritchie, unable to contain the twinkle in his eyes.


Thinking about the season, Prine said that he was already looking forward to coaching again next year. “It was definitely a fun experience. I get to work with most of [the athletes], but meeting everyone and teaching them how to bowl has been very rewarding. They all have different personalities and it’s fun to get to know them.”


When talking about his team, Prine said they were all great athletes. “They had good teamwork and good sportsmanship; it’s what I like to see.”


Part of Prine’s team that he can’t imagine the season without are the volunteers who help him out. “They are a big help. They make sure everything is set up, that the players have their bowling balls and are wearing their shirts.”


Now that the season is over, both Ritchie and Fortier are looking forward to their spring sport—Bocce ball. In the near future, they’re both looking forward to Christmas and spending time with their families.


“I’m getting a Bocce ball game for Christmas,” said Ritchie.


Fortier, who loves video games, hopes that one will be waiting for him under the tree. “I love wrestling,” he added.

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