When Alex Ouellette shot 300 during the Division 2 state finals, the Bangor John Glenn Bay City senior had no intention of getting the ring fitted for himself.
“He got a women’s ring and had it fitted for his sister,” said mom Sherry Ouellette. “During the year he shot a 299 and she was almost in tears because he didn’t shoot 300.”
Danielle Ouellette, two years younger than Alex, has Down syndrome and required tons of attention as a youngster.
Bowling was at first a way for Alex Ouellette to bond with his father, Mark. Eventually he became quite accomplished at the sport and on Thursday he was named the Matt Fiorito Mr. Bowling winner for 2014.
On the girls side, two-time state champion Jordan Richard from Tecumseh received the Miss Bowling award. Her sister, Kara, was a state champion in 2010 — and that set the stage for Jordan’s goal of winning as a sophomore and junior.
“She really doesn’t get the credit she deserves,” Jordan said of Kara. “I basically dedicate this to her, because I think she works harder than anyone. I know she works harder than I do. She pushes me to be better. She is my left hand.
“I love her to death and I would do anything for her. She’s amazing. This means everything to me. I wanted to follow her.”
Coach Kenny Richard, the girls’ father, broke down in tears when talking about his daughters.
“He is so emotional,” Jordan said, smiling.
Ouellette topped off a big senior year with the Division 2 state title. Danielle was there, cheering every strike, and said Thursday she planned on bowling for Pinconning High School next year.
“I tried to divide my time up; I knew she needed more time,” said Ouellette, 17. “I had to grow up a lot faster than a lot of my friends. A lot of it was by my choice. I wanted to help take care of my sister. I wanted to do whatever I could to help my parents out with my sister.
“That’s how I ended up getting into bowling, because my sister got a lot more attention. My dad took me bowling because it was a way for me and him to have one-on-one time.”
Said Mark Ouellette: “Ever since he was little he just really loved to bowl. He’d get out of school and ‘Hey, Dad, can we go bowling?’ We’d squeeze it in, in-between the leagues. There would be times where we’d bowl until the oil machine got to us then we’d have to leave. We got a membership at this one bowling alley and we’d go and bowl 20 games apiece.”
Jody Richard has spent a good part of her adult life in bowling alleys as an employee and watching her daughters bowl. Now Jordan will be leaving for Central Missouri.
“This means a lot to her,” Jody Richard said of Jordan. “She works really hard on her game. This has been a dream of hers. She always wanted to follow in Kara’s footsteps.”
■COACHES OF THE YEAR: Flint Kearsley swept as Robert Ploof was named girls coach of the year and boys coach Bart Rutledge received the honor. Both Kearsley teams captured state titles this year.
SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: The scholarship recipient was Maria Osinski of Sterling Heights Stevenson.