RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Felician University women's bowling team recently attended and coordinated a bowling tournament for the patients of the Binder Autism Center (BAC) in Paterson.
The Binder Autism Center is part of the child development center at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. It is also the employer of Felician head coach Taylor Strothmann of Maywood.
In early 2018, the BAC's learners, the clients of the center, began having weekly bowling practices. After the learners had spent months working hard to become the best bowlers possible, Strothmann was tasked with organizing a culminating event. Then a Felician assistant coach, she drafted some members of the Golden Falcons to assist her in running a one-day tournament.
"The weekly bowling program started to help increase the learners' social skills and show them what it means to be a teammate," Strothmann said. "We did not expect them to become competitive and want to learn more about the sport."
This year, Strothmann had been elevated to the head coach of Felician and knew what to expect from the learners at the BAC. So not only did she enlist the assistance of the entire Felician team, but also invited the Golden Falcons' northern New Jersey rivals on the NCAA bowling circuit. Student-athletes from Caldwell University and New Jersey City University answered the call, and the second Binder Autism Center Bowling Tournament was held on April 13, 2019, at Garden Palace in Clifton.
"There were about 20 learners ranging in age from 4 to 21," Strothmann said. "The college bowlers assisted the learners physically with their games, but their more important role was simply the moral support – cheering on the learners and letting them know everyone was rooting for them."
The BAC will continue to hold their yearly practices to improve the learners' social skills, bowling techniques, and simply have fun. There are early-stage discussions of a partnership with the Special Olympics. Either way, the BAC's goals for its bowling program are for its learners to improve, compete, and make lifelong friendships – very similar to the goals of their Golden Falcon counterparts.
Felician University engages more than 2,400 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students through programs in Arts & Sciences, Business, Nursing, and Education. Universal Franciscan values of respect, social justice, and compassion form an inclusive foundation for transforming the lives of tomorrow's leaders. Felician University was ranked 3rd-best return on investment for private colleges in New Jersey in 2018 by the PayScale.com College ROI Report and is ranked the No. 1 safest college campus in the state by niche.com. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level. To learn more about Felician University please visit www.felician.edu.