Sports Column: Former Assistant New Unified Bowling Coach

By 
Derek Noehren
The Daily Record

After last year, anticipation for the new fall semester is high. The same applies for athletic teams. Ralston’s new unified bowling head coach Richelle Roth wants to get the word out.

Unified bowling combines special education and general education students together. Roth is a Special Education instructor who teaches the Life Skills Program at Ralston High School. After serving as an assistant coach the past two years, she takes the helm as head coach this year.

“It’s a combination of special education students and general education students,” Roth said. “We’re really hoping, especially after COVID, we’ll have a nice size team this year. I’m really looking forward to expanding the team this year.”

Unified bowling is still relatively new and began as an independent sport at some high schools. In 2016, the sport got a major boost when the Nebraska Schools Activities Association sanctioned it for the first time. Although the sport continues to grow, educating students about it remains a priority.

“I think it’s really going to grow, especially after COVID,” Roth said. “I had kids ask last year that were interested but didn’t even know we had a bowling team.”

Roth believes unified sports fill a void while also serving as a developmental aid for both special education and general education participants.

“I think it really helps students understand what their peers are going through. For some kids, it’s really the only sport they get to play during the year, and they really look forward to it,” she said. “Ralston’s team right now is just special education students, so we’re really hoping to recruit some of our general education kiddos.”

The social aspect of unified sports invites students to get to know their peers.

“Then, when they see those kids in the hallway, they start to really develop those friendships and bonds,” Roth said. “Some students may not have classes together, so this is a way for them to interact.”

Unified bowling is a fall sport playing at the same time as other sports like football and volleyball.

In 2020, Maplewood Lanes hosted the Unified Bowling State Championships with eight teams. North Bend Central was crowned champions with Norfolk earning runner-up honors.

For more information on unified bowling, visit nsaahome.org/unified-bowling.

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