For the 54 SOWI athletes and Unified partners heading to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in July, it goes without saying the week of competition and festivities is going to be a special time for them. But for two bocce players from Glendale, the USA Games are going to be extra special.
Jonathan and Rachel Frank of the North Suburban agency are two bocce teammates who will get to compete together in Seattle. They are also husband and wife. The couple has been married for five years and teammates for several years in athletics, basketball and bowling, in addition to bocce. But they’ve definitely never experienced anything like this during their marriage. This will be the first USA Games for both athletes but the fact that they’ll get to experience it together will make the trip that much more memorable.
Given the selection process for Team Wisconsin, you’d think there might have been some tension in the home if one had made the team and not the other. But the Franks insist this wouldn’t have been the case. They are consummate team players and very supportive of one another. “We support each other. We said we didn’t care if one got selected,” Rachel said.
In fact, both of the Franks display a great deal of humility and gratitude about their selection. “My feelings are it’s an honor because not everybody gets to go. I want to show good sportsmanship and represent Team Wisconsin as best I can,” Jonathan said.
For Rachel, the USA Games will serve as another opportunity to work on her social skills, something she has struggled with in the past. “My social issues are not as severe as they once were. Special Olympics has definitely helped,” Rachel said. “I’m ready to face the challenge of getting to meet people from all over the US.”
Being the people person that he is, Jonathan is eager to hear the stories of the other athletes. “I’m looking forward to meeting people from around the country and hearing their stories,” Jonathan said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” There will be more than 3,000 athletes competing in the USA Games so let’s hope Jonathan is a good listener.
Between now and July, the bocce team is meeting for practices in Columbus to train together, work with different playing surfaces, and build chemistry. But between the two of them, it’s probably safe to say the Franks have the chemistry part down already.