Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Legally blind Spring Hill bowler competes at high level

SPRING HILL — When legally blind bowler Henry Svetina touts his two non-sanctioned perfect games, the average person would be skeptical.

This is a man, after all, who has trouble walking around because of his sight. And when he speaks to you, he seems to be looking right through you because, to him, you are just a bunch of cloudy colors.

The skepticism vanishes, however, when you see Svetina toss eight strikes in his first nine frames of a game, including seven in a row. That's exactly what the 50-year-old Svetina, of Spring Hill, did recently in the Professional Bowlers Association South Region Pro-Am at Spring Hill Lanes, rolling a 240 game in the process.

"I made a small change, and it all started to come together," he said. "This is how I know I can bowl."

Svetina's final series (487) was higher than bowlers around him that average 200 on a regular basis in league play. But it wasn't the scores that interested the man throwing the ball. He used the time in between shots to talk with the pro bowlers who accompanied him on the lane.

He spoke about his condition and how it happened. In 1991, Svetina, an Army veteran, was involved in an industrial accident at an airport in Long Island, N.Y. The mishap caused sulfuric acid to spray into his eyes, burning his retinas and causing him to go blind almost instantly. His sight has deteriorated even more since then, to the point where he no longer is able to see colors more than a of couple feet in front of him.

"It's very tough," he said. "When I woke up the morning after, I couldn't see at all. It was a hard thing to get over."

Fort Myers pro Lee Rucker was one of the bowlers who listened to Svetina's story. He seemed impressed and moved by the plight of not only Svetina, but all blind people who strive to overcome their handicap.

As he talked about organizing a local bowling fundraiser for Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida, Svetina mentioned having some difficulty gaining support from pros to help with the cause. Immediately, Rucker pledged to be there, if asked.

"I have a couple guys in my league at home who can't see so well," Rucker said. "We are more than happy to tell them which pins are standing so they can adjust. None of us mind helping out."

Svetina needs the same assistance. On his first ball, he steps toward the middle of the lane to try for a strike. If pins are still standing, he needs a little help with the identification of the remaining pins.

He also needs assistance with getting his ball off the rack. With so many different balls, he can't identify his own without someone else's help. Past that, he has a pretty good grip on the game.

He bowled a lot more often in the mid to late 1990s in his native Long Island. After some time off and moving to Spring Hill in 2005, Svetina began to pick up the sport again. He now uses the PBA South Region events to compete and gain awareness for the blind.

"I know him a little bit from all the pro-am (events) he's competed in," South Region manager Sam Zurich said. "What he's doing has got to be difficult. It's really something to watch."

Svetina's story has been told by several media outlets as he attempts to draw more attention to the visually impaired. He has been featured on Fox News, ABC News and Bay News 9 since 2005, and CNN in 1996.

He focuses on pro-am tournaments and events involving Visually Impaired Persons, as well as Special Olympics.

The competitors at the recent pro-am event at Spring Hill Lanes seemed astonished by his abilities.

Thanks in large part to his final game of 240 and pro games of 258, 275 and 257, Svetina finished in the middle of the pack in the event, placing 34th. The six PBA bowlers who competed with him were David Shinn (22nd in the Spring Hill Open), Kyle Troup (fifth), Wayne Bolin (75th), Rucker (63rd), Guppy Troup (21st) and Kirk Hersey (58th).

Comments
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking of openers, the Rays will start RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) for the fourth time this season, the second time in 48 hours vs. the Orioles. The 35-year-old Romo did not make it out of the first inning Friday, allowin...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Raysí closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Raysí closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says heís retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says heís retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
Thomas Bassingerís takeaways from Saturdayís Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassingerís takeaways from Saturdayís Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
RAYSREPORT

RAYSREPORT

Today: vs. Orioles1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $15-$275; available at Tropicana Field, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of gamePromotion: Raymond childrenís book for kids 14 ...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

Rays Tales: What the trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span leads to next

The reality of Friday's surprising trade of Alex Colome and Denard Span to Seattle is, of course, between the extremes.One side is screaming this is the latest proof the Rays are driven more to pocket money than winning games (and, for the loudest, o...
Published: 05/26/18

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Published: 05/26/18