Mattapoisett teen bowls them over and strikes gold at the Special Olympics
MATTAPOISETT — Mikey Hogan gets stopped by strangers nearly every time he goes bowling.
“All the time, people come up to us and say he’s unbelievable. Total strangers will walk up after he bowls to tell us it’s unreal,” his father, Jim Hogan said. “Some of his shots are just unbelievable.”
Mikey Hogan won his first gold medal for bowling March 6 at the Special Olympics tournament in Brockton.
On Saturday, March 26, he competed at the nationals in Auburn, where he competed against other gold medalists from all over the state.
But it was Mikey who took home the gold yet again.
He had the highest score at the event with a total series score (over three games) of 556 for an average score of 185. Jim Hogan uploaded a video of some of Mikey’s best moves to Youtube.
Now a fifteen year-old freshman at Old Rochester High School, Mikey was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.
He didn’t start out as a champion bowler. He used to play other sports, including baseball in Old Rochester Little League and hockey with Gateway Youth Hockey in Wareham. But as he got older, he struggled with the more social aspect of team sports and his parents began looking for something different.
They found bowling by accident.
“He does school year-round but gets out at noon during the day, so his grandmother and I were looking for stuff for him to do, I didn’t think he’d like it,” said Hogan.
This wasn’t the case. Mikey loved it, and started asking his grandmother, Kathleen Brown, to take him every day when there was time.
After that, they talked to the staff at Wonder Bowl in New Bedford, and Mikey was able to join the team there, where Hogan says he’s improved ever since.
Most of the kids on that team were bowling candlepin, whereas Mikey prefers ten-pin. About six young bowlers agreed to switch to the ten-pin team and they named Mikey the captain from the beginning.
“He bowls about 170-180 and they were just watching him in amazement,” Hogan said.
He competed in his first Special Olympics tournament in Brockton, where Mikey got a gold medal and scored the highest out of everyone there with a high score of 226, and a combined score after three games of 589.
“They put him next to this one guy who had been bowling for 15 years and I thought that was kind of unfair,” said Hogan, “but he beat him.’’
No one else in the Hogan family bowls, so Mikey taught himself, and even has his own technique.
“He used to bowl the regular way, with one hand,” said Hogan. “But watching Youtube videos, he saw Jason Belmonte use two.” Jason Belmonte is a professional ten-pin bowler from Australia.
One day, the young bowler was playing with his team in New Bedford, and he told Hogan he wanted to try using two hands.
“I didn’t think it was a good idea,” Hogan laughed, “but I said, do whatever you want.” He learned not to say no to his son. “Mikey has been phenomenal ever since.”
Hogan says that his son loves bowling, and he’s never wanted to make it about winning, it should be about having fun. “He just happens to also be really good at it.”
The bowling season has ended, and Mikey will start playing Special Olympics Softball for the Plymouth Rocks next month.
“He loves that too,” said Hogan. “But his real passion is bowling. So we’ll keep bringing him through the spring and the summer.”