Cassie Searle enjoys bowling. But that’s not all she gets from being a part of the Go-Getters Bowling League, whose members are people with disabilities.
“She has also made some friendships through Go-Getters,” says Cassie’s mother Carole Searle. “She got started because some of her friends were in Go-Getters. She is also learning to be a team player.”
This may sound like the standard reward of belonging to a good bowling league, but the Go-Getters is not your typical league.
“Forty-two years ago I started the Go-Getters,” explains founder and director Lois Nardone. “I bowled at the time. My brother has Down syndrome and he wanted to know why there wasn’t a bowling league for him.
The Go-Getters began at Fiesta Lanes in San Jose, but moved to Moonlite Lanes in Santa Clara about 15 years ago.
“Moonlite Lanes is very good to us about price,” says Nardone. “Without their help, a lot of these people couldn’t afford to bowl. The Moonlite Lanes staff and management accept our bowlers with understanding. These bowlers want to be treated with respect and have someone listen to them.”
Go-Getters’ bowlers range in age from 29 to 60, and it’s not necessary to have bowling experience to join. The league has 20 teams, with four on a team, and includes family, friends, and coaches. Two of the coaches have been volunteering for about 30 years with the league and one comes all the way from Hayward to help.
“We are one happy family,” Nardone says. “The coaches love bowling with our bowlers and the bowlers worry about the coaches when they are absent. I could add more bowlers but I can’t because I don’t have enough coaches to do that.
“We have no more wheelchair bowlers, for example, because there are not enough volunteers,” Nardone continues. “I need at least four more coaches. The coaches not only bowl with the members, but also cheer them on every Sunday and collect the money and keep track of it.”
The league members help with set-up and cleanup for fundraising events that benefit the league.
“The main goals of the Go-Getters,” concludes Nardone, “are to have a good time, respect one other and learn bowling etiquette.”
The first tournament was August 26. The new season begins in September and continues for 35 weeks. For information or to volunteer as a Go-Getters bowling coach, call Lois Nardone at (408) 224-0445 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.