BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
BOWLING GREEN — Alex Mitova insisted on doing the work himself.
Guided by voices, he picked up a tennis ball and put it on top of a rubber tee. He stood, adjusted his stance, and swung. The tennis ball bounced off his golf club and sailed.
Alex, 13, is legally blind. He was one of about 100 children who participated in various athletic games at Bowling Green State University’s Charles E. Perry Field House on Sunday afternoon for the kickoff of RallyCap Sports.
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His mother, Mariana Mitova, a faculty adviser at BGSU, said her son has tried to play “traditional” sports but struggled. A few years ago she wanted to sign him up for a sport, though she declined to say which, and the coach told her no, that Alex would “slow down the game.”
“That was very hard for me to hear,” Mrs. Mitova said.
RallyCap is a recreational sports program for children and young adults with special needs. The program was the idea of Paul Hooker, a 1975 graduate of BGSU, and Luke Sims, 21, a senior in the College of Business.
In 1990, Mr. Hooker started a similar program, Challenged Youth Sports, where he lives in New Jersey. Now he wants to re-create the program, partnering with universities across the country, starting with his alma mater.
He reached out to Ray Braun, dean of the business school, and Mr. Braun knew Mr. Sims and his “entrepreneurial interest” would be the right match for launching RallyCap in Bowling Green.
The program name was inspired by sports fans who turn their hats inside out and backward while trying to inspire their teams into a come-from-behind victory.
Mr. Sims thought his degree in business would lead him into the corporate world, but his involvement with RallyCap “grew into something I fell in love with and could see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
If it is, in fact, something Mr. Sims wants to do after graduation, Mr. Hooker said he’s ready to hire him.
On Sunday, the participating youth, who ranged in age from 7 to 14, golfed, tossed footballs, and kicked soccer balls with about 80 university students who volunteered. Soon a four-week soccer program for the children will kick off; the youths will get to play, meet the school’s soccer team, and play under the lights at Mickey Cochrane Soccer Stadium.
Kim and Joel Veizer of Toledo took their son, Nicholas, 13, to RallyCap for socialization and exercise. Mrs. Veizer said Nicholas brought home a flyer from school about the event and was eager to participate, which surprised her. Nicholas, she said, is “a computer nerd.”
Sunday was a chance to pull him away from screens, games, and the Internet to let him try his hand at golf. That’s what he was most interested in; after an hour, he was still going strong. “He’ll keep going like an Energizer bunny,” Mr. Veizer said.
RallyCap plans to host a different sports activity each season; more information is available at rallycapsports.org.