The North Bowl Bowling Alley and Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation (GUSR) have an exceptional relationship after years of supporting those with special abilities through introducing, practicing and competing with bowling.
This past April, North Bowl, 125 W. Sinto Ave., switched owners. Mark and Sharlene Palos have taken over but kept all programs and leagues from the years past. Programs include various senior leagues, a recently added junior program and numerous organizations helping the Spokane community bowl too.
One of the organizations includes GUSR, one of GU’s numerous service programs on campus. A group of adult participants with disabilities and GU students come together to bowl every Saturday morning for the first half of the school year. A bowling participant and a GU student get paired together to increase bowling skills and more importantly, to form a deep friendship.
Emma Brink, a junior, decided to become a lead coordinator after falling in love with the program during her freshman year.
“I leave every practice feeling content and happy that I was able to reconnect with everyone there. I love everyone in this program and feel like they are my second family at Gonzaga,” Brink said in an email.
Sharlene and Mark Palos, have a similar passion for advocating all people’s abilities and their capability to bowl. Along with GUSR, North Bowl supports many other programs that advocate those with special abilities: The Arc, The Lilac Warriors, and the Gophers, a youth Special Olympics team.
“I’m looking at the bigger picture, this is going to be something that generations and generations can enjoy,” Sharlene said.
Gonzaga students volunteering with GUSR have similar ideals in bringing awareness to every person’s capabilities, regardless of what society often says.
“It has made me more aware of the injustices that people with disabilities face every day,” Brink said. “I’m able to talk to the participants and hear what hoops they have to jump through every day and how difficult it is for them to function in society with the stigmas that surround them. Finding out all of this information has made me want to advocate for this population.”
Not only does North Bowl advocate for such programs, but it also reduces overall pricing for the organizations to come and play. Larger established organizations often advocate for smaller programs by helping with the rental space of facilities, making the cost even lower at North Bowl for GUSR.
“[North Bowl is] very understanding in the paying process, also Special Olympics pays for the bowling alley,” Brink said.
Besides financially, the Special Olympics plays an integral part in GUSR’s program. At the end of the semester, the GUSR team participates in the Northeast Region Special Olympics Team. At this tournament, GUSR participants compete against various bowling teams in the region for medals.
“Most of [the participants] love the tournament because they are able to show off their skills, get cheered on by volunteers in the program, and hopefully win a medal,” Brink said. “Some participants bring their medal to the remaining practices just to show it off to other volunteers who didn’t attend the tournament.”
North Bowl is excited for future years of working with GUSR and continuing to learn from the program’s participants and students. Sharlene and Mark Palos hope to create an environment where bowlers of all levels and capabilities can play and feel supported.
“We are growing bowlers to continue it on,” Sharlene said.