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They call him ‘Mr. 300'

Man with cerebral palsy bowls 300

Posted: May 28, 2008 1:26 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Eddie LeGault takes time out from bowling Thursday at Valencia Lanes and stands next to the award he received for his perfect game Apr. 22 with his mother Barbara Stefanavage and Valencia Lanes manager Yvette Boyer.

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Just as Eddie LeGault was about to bowl a perfect game, everyone inside Valencia Lanes stopped.

More than 200 people were suddenly silent.

None of 120 other bowlers in lanes on either of side of Ed's lane sent their 15 pounds of rounded stone crashing onto the polished hardwood. Instead, they just held them in their hands as they watched Eddie LeGault prepare to bowl 12 strikes in a row, knocking down every single pin, every single time with just a dozen bowling balls.

"You couldn't even get through here, it was so crowded. But, nobody talked," said Yvette Boyer, manager of the bowling alley on Lyons Avenue. "Word of mouth goes around about what's happening and everybody stood still, watching.

"You could have heard a pin drop," she said. "And as soon as he scored the 300 there was an incredible roar.

"But, for Eddie, it didn't look like there was any pressure," she added. "He threw it as if it was just another shot."

That's how it appeared to bowlers and onlookers April 22, but that's not how it was, according to the master bowler himself.

What they didn't see, he said, was how intense and nervous he felt in those seconds before he unleashed the ball that would earn a clean perfect 300 points.

"I was trying to tell myself not to be nervous," 40-year-old LeGault told The Signal Thursday. "Everybody was watching me. When I threw the last ball, right when I released it, I knew."

LeGault said he watched the last pin fall in slow motion.

And, as the last bowling bowl was making its way toward the pins, LeGault sidestepped into the adjacent lane, watching it, sidestepping again into the next lane, crossing across four lanes watching the last bowling ball claim a perfect game.

"When it hit, I hit my fist into my hand," he said. "It was great."

Eddie LeGault, of Canyon Country, has been bowling for more than 20 years.

He and his brothers bowled with their father. They remember a couple of times sleeping inside sleeping bags next to the crash and tumble of the bowling lanes, as their father bowled.

Overcoming stigma
Eddie has won many contests.

What's his handicap?

It depends who you ask.

Having just scored a perfect game and having racked up scores of bowling awards over two decades you might think that his handicap should be significant.

That is, unless you're one of the people who knows he suffers from cerebral palsy.

You might reassess the whole handicap notion. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral palsy is a term that refers to: any one of a number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don't worsen over time.

Over time, Eddie LeGault has only become a better bowler.

For Ed and his family, however, the politically-incorrect stigmatized notion of handicap as in disability means nothing.

Handicapped, disabled, challenged - whatever term you apply to Eddie the bowler becomes meaningless in the face of a perfect game.

Anyone - able-bodied or not so nimble-bodied - would have a difficult time bowling a perfect game.

"I bowled a perfect game right down to the last ball," said Ed's brother, Steve. "I left a couple of pins. I ended up with a score of 289. That's not perfect."

Steve LeGault said he his other brother, Donald, never lightened up on Eddie when it came to competing.

Ed LeGault also plays floor hockey, pursues a little bit of basketball and a whole lot of swimming, enough to earn him nine gold medals at the Special Olympics.

Ed, who unwinds by building car models, is avid NASCAR and drag racing fan.

As a bowler, he's won several other awards outside of any specially-designated class, at regular bowling tournaments.

Next goal
The day he bowled his perfect game was a Tuesday - the night his Funtastics League meets.

He also bowls Friday for the Friday Night Party League.

He bowls here and away, in tournaments for physically challenged bowlers and in tournaments for less physically challenged bowlers, often out of state.

He bowls as often as he possibly can.

LeGault usually finishes in the top five and maintains a book average of 200 which, for non-bowlers, means far better than average and pretty darn close to perfect.

He's competed against (and beat) TV celebrity Tom Arnold on The Best Damn Sports Show Period.

"It's an outstanding achievement," Boyer said of LeGault's local bowling legacy. "By all means he should be recognized."

It's not about ability or disability, she said, adding that LeGault practices three times a week.

"It's about consistency. It's about hitting your mark," she said.

Boyer presented with an engraved plaque the size of a briefcase.

What's LeGault's next goal?

"I want to break an 800 series," he said.

For the non-bowler that means three perfect games back to back - disability or no disability, ability and nothing but ability.

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