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Special Olympics Winter Season at BHMA Set to be a Success

Image of seven players on the basketball court during a team practice.

The start of the spring semester at BHMA marks the much-anticipated beginning of the Special Olympics winter season. Each week, student athletes can be found on the basketball court and at the bowling alley—building their skills, cheering on teammates, and having fun. Being a part of the Special Olympics is one of BHMA’s most popular and rewarding experiences, mobilizing most of the student body. Participating in a SOMA sport includes eight weeks of practice, with qualifying and final tournaments to cap off the season. As SOMA Coordinator Joe Guvendiren explains, basketball and bowling are capacity sports, meaning they are performance-based. Individual bowlers, or the basketball team as a whole, have to qualify in order to compete in the finals in March. The Buzzer Beaters and Kingpins have been working hard to earn a spot. The Buzzer Beaters

Image of eight players on the basketball court during a team practice.

After last year’s rebuilding season, Guvendiren has high hopes for this year’s team. Coached by Residential Assistants Christian Maldonado and Jennie Ochterski, the team has eleven players and four unified partners, or staff and community members who play with the students. From initial practices at Mount Holyoke and the Second Baptist Church in South Hadley, it is clear that this year’s group has good communication and an effective rhythm. “I feel great about the basketball team; the Buzzer Beaters look amazing,” says Guvendiren.

There are several scheduled community games that help to fairly determine the team’s divisional placement. The schedule is as follows:

January 28: Regular Season Game at Smith College 1-4pm

February 10: Qualifiers at Stonehill College 8am-4pm

February 25: Regular Season Game at Worcester State University 10am-2pm

March 10 & 11: Winter Games at Marlborough, MA

The Kingpins

Image of two students, with their backs facing the camera, bowling at Spare Time Northampton.

The bowling team had several stellar individual performances last year, and the Kingpins are looking to secure additional victories this season. Coached by Guvendiren, Residential Advisor Jakob Palches, and Music Instructor Brianna Rzeznik, the team has an impressive twenty-three-person roster. It is a mix of student athletes who have never bowled before, and those who are returning to the team and looking to improve their performance. Veteran members Andrea, Emily, and Mary are back to defend their gold medals won at last year’s Winter Games, and first-year Madhav has already notched high-level scores at practice. Everyone is working hard to fine-tune their approach, develop strategies for success, and qualify for the finals.

In addition to weekly Sunday practices at Spare Time Northampton, the bowling team’s schedule is as follows:

February 4: Qualifiers at Spare Time Northampton 9am-4pm

March 10 & 11: Winter Games at Marlborough, MA 


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