Hooked on bowling

Published 7:01 am Monday, June 25, 2018

Stephanie Vazquez of Austin was hooked from the moment she began bowling as a seventh-grader for the Austin Adaptive team.

After finishing her senior season by by winning the Russ Bakko Award for the most valuable player in adaptive bowling, Vazquez, who has cerebral palsy, is still hooked on the sport.

Stephanie Vazquez gives the bowling ball a nudge at Echo Lanes Bowling Alley. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“I love it,” Stephanie said. “It’s fun and I think other kids should try it.”

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Vazquez was the captain of Austin’s Physically Impaired Division team this past season, which meant she had to take on a leadership role. Her father Jorge, said she was well suited for it.

“She had to encourage her teammates, support her teammates and be a good example,” Jorge said. “We went to a lot of tournaments and she had pretty good experience. She was able to be part of a team and compete. When kids with any disability get to be part of something like this, it really means a lot to them.”

Stephanie embraced every chance she had to compete with the Packers this season, even though it meant waking up at 4 a.m. for long days on the road.

“Every time they have the opportunity to do something that other kids do, they take it to the max and they enjoy it as much as they can,” Jorge said. “She didn’t want to miss bowling and she wanted to go to state.”

While some adaptive bowlers need assistance from coaches or teammates, Stephanie always insisted that she navigate her throws on her own. Stephanie makes her throws with the assistance of a ramp, but she pushes the ball with her own power from her wheel chair.

“She makes the adjustment herself and she knows how to read the lane and how the ball will move in different ways,” Jorge said. “She was able to judge and make those calls. She was able to work on it herself.”

One of Stephanie Vazquez’s rolls heads down the lane at Echo Lanes Bowling Alley. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Besides bowling, Stephanie has found other ways to stay active as she’s participated in deer and turkey hunting and she works with kids at the Summer Daze Camp at the YMCA.

Jorge said that bowling with the Packers has been a great experience for his daughter and he always encouraged her to make the best of it.

“I always tell her that she’s here and she should live the moment and have fun,” Jorge said. “Don’t feel the pressure and enjoy the moment.”