Dave Morrow started volunteering with the Charlottetown 5-Pin Bowling program 20 years ago. What started as helping out because of a family connection, turned into a deeper connection to both the Movement, and the athletes who have found their place in Special Olympics, for this long time volunteer more commonly known as Coach Dave.
Prior to moving back to PEI, Dave lived and worked in Halifax. He ran a group home there, and was well versed in both working with and helping individuals with an intellectual disability. Once settled back in PEI in 2001, Dave started volunteering with the Charlottetown 5-Pin Bowling program because of his connection to then Special Olympics PEI's Program Director, Charity Sheehan, who is Dave's niece. Dave enjoyed his time volunteering so he began taking coach education courses. In 2004 Dave took the step to become Head Coach of the Charlottetown 5-Pin Bowling program.
Reflecting over the last 20 years of volunteering, one of the biggest changes for Dave has been the number of athletes attending each week. Back when Dave started out it was typical to see 20 athletes attend each week. Now the program routinely sees upwards of 65-70 athletes registered to bowl each year. Dave also acknowledges the number of volunteers and parents who have stepped up to support the growth of the program. Aside from the desire to see Coach Dave each week, bowling is an important event on many athletes' social calendar. Athletes love seeing each other each week. In addition to the social component, for many athletes the competitive side to bowling is also a factor. 5-Pin Bowling is a program that sees a wide range of abilities. From athletes who require 1-on-1 support to physically bowl, to athletes who would blow you away with their scores, Dave's bowling program is inclusive of athletes of all ability levels. This is one of the greatest things about bowling for Dave - you don't need to be a great bowler to bowl. With the right support, anyone can play the game.
Being Co-Head Coach for Team PEI 2020's 5-Pin Bowling team has been a highlight of Dave's time with Special Olympics PEI. Having attended Special Olympics National Games in the past as a Mission Staff, 2020 was Dave's first time in a Head Coach role. In 2020 PEI was fortunate to be able to send 2 5-Pin Bowling teams to a National Games. Both teams had the mindset of having fun, but also being there to compete. Dave recalls how the athletes shined all week, with one team even winning a gold medal. Dave says the moment was super exciting for the athletes, and for him as a Coach.
Following lots of changes and restrictions over the last year and a half due to the pandemic, Dave is looking forward to the 2021-22 5-Pin Bowling program year. He is looking forward to seeing the athletes, especially those whom he did not see last year due to restrictions. Dave is looking forward to having fun and working with the program's competitive athletes to get their skills back up.
For Dave, the best part about Special Olympics is the meaningful connections he has made. Reflecting on the last 20 years, the connection he has made with athlete Michael Morris is perhaps one of the most meaningful. Dave has been doing respite with Michael for almost as long as he has been volunteering with Special Olympics. It was Dave who first got Michael involved with Special Olympics, bringing Michael to bowling each Tuesday. Through Special Olympics Michael has had numerous life changing opportunities, including the chance to travel to world as a member of Team Canada. For Dave, the time he spends with Michael is truly one of the highlights of his life.
Dave's message to anyone thinking about volunteering with Special Olympics PEI would be to take that step! Make the commitment for a few months, come try it out, and within a few weeks you will be hooked.
As a celebrate National Coaches Week, we say thank you to coaches like Dave!
Become a Coach
Learn more about becoming a coach with Special Olympics PEI: Find your place in Special Olympics.