Jennifer Kutcka

Associate Professor in Deaf Studies Jennifer Kutcka will pursue her childhood passion at this year’s 22nd Summer Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 26 through Aug. 4. Without any formal training, Kutcka has been asked to be one of the four members on the Deaflympics Bowling Team.

Bowling has always been a family affair to Kutcka. After watching her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles perform in various leagues, Kutcka joined a league of her own when she was only 7 years old. She stopped bowling when she started participating in other sports at Indiana School for the Deaf, but picked it up again after she got married in 2000.

I have never had any formal coaching for bowling,” says Kutcka. “And as a Deaf person, I haven’t even had the benefit of picking up terms, techniques or tips by overhearing other bowlers talk. I’ve learned on my own by observing others and by doing it.”

Kutcka has been involved in many leagues in the St. Joseph and Elkhart area. In fact, it was at a Deaf Bowling Tournament in California five years ago that Kutcka met the coach of the Deaflympic Bowling Team. He told her that she had to have an average in the 170s for three years to try out for the team. Kutcka averaged in the 150s, but she began focusing her technique in the hopes of joining the team someday.

Kutcka at tryouts for the Deaflympics in Dallas.

That day came last August when Kutcka tried out in Dallas, Texas, and was asked to be the fourth member of the team in February. Unfortunately, that only leaves Kutcka with four months to raise the $4,800 needed to participate, since the Deaflympics is not supported with sponsors.

On June 9, Kutcka and another teammate will hold a bowling fundraiser in Fishers, Ind. She will also be hosting a Zumba night in South Bend at Gospel Center Missionary Church gym on June 27 from 6 – 8 p.m. The cost is $10. You can also donate to the USADF via email or to Jennifer Kutcka directly. Check/money order can be sent to her address: 52305 Wood Haven Court Granger, IN  46530.

“I am so blessed that God has given me a talent that is enabling me to participate in an Olympic experience, says Kutcka. “On the bowling alley, I feel normal like anyone else.”