When it comes to sports, Ali Leggett is a true competitor.
In fact, a couple of weeks ago she won a gold medal at the Special Olympics, out-bowling numerous competitors to emerge the winner. "I really like bowling," said Ali. "I've been practicing for a very long time."
And Bonnie Kahn, an elementary physical education teacher, and Ali's coach, teacher and friend, has watched this somewhat shy, yet engaging 18-year-old Tomahawk High School senior, excel at just about anything she sets her mind too. "She is a true competitor," said Bonnie. "I've been coaching her in several sports over the years, and in every one she just keeps improving."
Ali started bowling when she was only nine years old. This sport was included in the curriculum at Tomahawk and in the fall and early winter months, students had a chance to play at Strikers Tomahawk Bowl. Ali's family, including her dad Tim, mom Kris and 11-year-old brother, Cole, also enjoy the sport and the family frequently hit the lanes on weekends and during vacation.
This year Ali decided to set her mind on a gold medal and won her division at the school level. Then she competed at regionals, which were held at Dale's Weston Lanes near Wausau, coming out victorious. Next it was on to sectionals in Eau Claire, where Ali also triumphed. "She had a fierce determination to win," said Bonnie. "She practiced and tried her best and it all came together."
To win an actual gold medal, though, Ali had one more hurdle to compete in-the state finals that were held a couple of weeks ago. In true Tomahawk Hatchet fashion, the entire school body, including the band, turned out for a pep rally to cheer Ali on to victory. "That was pretty cool," said Ali. "Even my dad cried."
And Ali didn't disappoint, either. She bowled better than ever before to garner her gold medal. "I got two strikes in a row and two spares in row, and my scores were 94, 99 and 116," she said proudly.
In the years she has been training in this sport, Ali has tried many different techniques, eventually settling on a winning form. In fact, when Bonnie saw her potential, she had a bowling ball specially drilled to fit Ali's hand. "I've got really small hands, so that helped me out a lot," said Ali.
Ali enjoys other sports as well. She has competed in track where she runs in the 50 meter dash, participates in the softball throw and the standing long jump. She's also a competitive snowshoe racer. And playing on the field isn't the only place Ali enjoys athletics. "I'm a huge Packer fan and I love the Brew Crew and watching the Badgers," she said.
In addition to her school work and competing in sports, Ali also works at McDonald's in Tomahawk part-time and it's a job she thoroughly enjoys. "I really like working there," she said. "The people are nice and I can make a little money."
Ali will graduate this spring and it's evident that Bonnie will miss her. "Ali is a very special person and she will be missed when she does graduate," she said. "But I know she will find success in life. That's just the way she is."
No doubt that will be the case for this determined athlete, who will always have a soft spot in her heart for Tomahawk High School. "It's like I said at my pep rally," she said. "Go Hatchets!"
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