Corey Mulholland wasn’t taking the easy, or ‘safe’ way out.
When he heads to Vancouver’s Special Olympics national bowling championships, he will in fact be trying his best… trying his best to win, that is.
“I tried my best when I got all these,” responded the 23-year-old Special Olympics athlete, pointing to a quintet of provincial medals Saturday in between games at the 9th Annual Tillsonburg Special Olympics Basketball Tournament at Glendale.
When not working mornings at Tillsonburg’s Home Hardware Building Centre, the graduate of Valley Heights and Sir Sanford Fleming College (Community Integration Through Cooperative Education program) Mulholland is an enthusiastic multi-sport athlete, enjoying basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey and golf.
“That’s just new.”
But he likes bowling best, and it’s in that discipline Mulholland is making history for Tillsonburg Special Olympics.
“He’s the first to go to nationals,” said Tillsonburg Special Olympics Community Coordinator Patricia Benoit. “We’ve sent athletes to provincials, but never nationals.”
Mulholland’s path to ‘nats’ began at the Southwestern Region (one of nine in Ontario) bowling tournament in London. Mulholland advanced from there to Special Olympics Provincial Spring Games in Kingston, May 2012. Nationals are not the end of the line, says Benoit, noting winners there qualify for ‘worlds.’
“This follows the same path as Olympics.”
Bowling is unique in the Special Olympics in that parents are welcome to opening and closing ceremonies, but not the competition itself. Apart from space considerations, their presence tends to distract bowlers.
“When we’re not there, he does so much better,” said Corey’s mom, Carolyn. “And there’s not enough room.”
As a result, she and husband Doug were among those both thrilled and a little surprised when Corey returned home from provincials with a mittfull of medals, four gold and one silver, representing both individual and team accomplishment.
“We beat at least two teams there,” said Corey, who was coached by Tom Folsey in Kingston and will be again at nationals.
Bowlers roll three games and are scored on pins over average, which is a solid 134 for the competitive Corey, who rose to the challenge at provincials.
“In one game I had 175, and the last game, 180s.”
“He was like 50 points over average in provincials,” said Benoit.
Nationals will be contested from July 6 to 13, 2014 in Vancouver. A fund-raising campaign in support of Tillsonburg’s first national Special Olympics athlete is underway. Those wishing to support Corey’s efforts are invited to call 519-842-7037 for more information.
B.C. is familiar ground for the Mulhollands, home to a couple of Doug’s brothers and a number of Corey’s cousins, with whom he looks forward to catching up.
“I can’t wait to see them again.”
Doug and Carolyn will not be able to attend the bowling competition, but are looking forward to sharing in opening and closing ceremonies with their son.
“We’re excited about that,” she said.
Leading up to nationals, Corey is practising three times per week, Tuesdays with Special Olympics, Fridays with Community Living and an additionally with his mom and dad.
“It’s going to be good, different,” summed up Corey, who is ‘excited’ to go back to Vancouver, to both have fun and do his best.
“I like to go there for fun, like everyone is, it’s fun.”
But make no mistake, Mulholland’s definition of fun and doing his best, includes an effort to return to the podium.
“Trying to win,” Corey concluded. “For Tillsonburg.”