MEDICINE HAT, AB — Chuck McDonald's first priority is to leave Prince Edward Island with a national title to his name.
But before releasing his first throw of the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Bowling Championships, he'll lead the charge as Team Alberta's official flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremonies Tuesday morning.
"It's an honour," said the 39-year-old, who's wearing Alberta's colours for the third time in his athletic career. "It'll be good. In February I found out I was carrying the flag into the Opening Ceremonies."
McDonald, known for his 10-pin prowess and contagious smile at the Panorama Lanes, will lead out seven Alberta-based 5-pin bowling teams, and 12 individual 10-pin specialists in the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre in Charlottetown. One of the teams representing the province hails from Medicine Hat.
Following the Opening Ceremonies, McDonald says it's all business.
"I want to win so bad so I can move onto Team Canada for the Worlds," he said.
McDonald's excitement is certainly heard in his voice. It's what he's worked hard for the last month — the chance to reach the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. He's taking the lanes in Summerside and Tyne Valley alongside teammate Mitchell MacDonald and Alberta's head coach Pat Enns, another Hatter.
The dream of wearing the maple leaf is in reach, and can become reality before the week is up.
"I'm going to try my hardest to make that dream come true," he smiled.
The Gas City is also well represented in five-pin bowling. Brydon Marchand, Blair Yuhas, Liam Carter, Sinjin Soper, and Rylan Kersey help make up an impressive southern Alberta squad which will certainly rival the best in Canada. The five-pin event is held at Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown.
"I'm handling them really good," said Soper on his nerves leading up to the competition. "It's going to be really interesting to be with everybody else there."
Soper, 20, is making the trip to Nationals for the first time.
Competition aside, the seven-person crew is downright thrilled at the chance to wear Alberta's colours. They're all undeniably close to one another; a special bond that's built over time and experience playing with each other.
"I love my team," said Marchand. "And they'll always be with me. And I'll always be with them."
For more information on the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Bowling Championships, click here.
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