By Andrew Smith
The Adelphi bowling season is well underway with graduate student Skylar McGarrity as team captain. McGarrity, who graduated in May 2020 with a bachelors in English and is pursuing a masters in adolescent English education, serves as a strong role model for the younger athletes.
McGarrity has always loved the sport. Her bowling career began at age five. Her grandmother, who she called, “Ginga” belonged to a league that McGarrity often visited. According to McGarrity, “My Ginga got my brother, who is seven years older than me, into bowling and I wanted to be just like him.”
Skylar McGarrity celebrating with her teammates.
Her grandmother passed away in 2004 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but her memory lives on. She said her brother and grandmother serve as her inspirational figures and encouraged her to begin her bowling career and pursue her love of the sport.
McGarrity also mentioned that she looks up to Liz Johnson, who is a member of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association. McGarrity describes her as someone who “carries herself well and knows her pedigree, no matter how she performs.”
McGarrity also explained how much it means to her to represent Adelphi Athletics. “Being able to represent Adelphi bowling means so much to me. Being a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow from each and every person I have been on this team with,” she said. “I think I’m simply most proud of being able to represent Adelphi across my chest on and off the lanes. Our program has come such a long way and I truthfully am so lucky to be a part of our constant changes and our success!”
In addition, McGarrity elaborated what it is like to be a captain of a team that mostly consists of younger athletes. “I think being a captain plays a role simply for the fact that it's my fifth year and this year we were an almost entirely new team. I love being able to share my experience with the team since I’ve been here so long, with a variety of teams made up of so many different, amazing athletes.”
Skylar McGarrity is a graduate student and bowling team captain who has had to overcome health challenges to participate in the sport. Photo from AU Athletics.
McGarrity faced several challenging medical obstacles at birth which she was able to overcome. She said she has suffered from vision issues her entire life. “I was born pretty much blind and through therapy I gained vision in my right eye. I have limited depth and peripheral vision in both eyes as well and always have.”
She elaborated on how this related to bowling. “When it comes to bowling and my vision, it's completely muscle memory to me and the pins look like a blob of white, so I’ve learned to adapt and be comfortable asking what pins I left so I know how to adjust and stand for the spare,” she said.
She has not only had to overcome her vision impairment. In eighth grade, McGarrity was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that can cause strokes. She was at a very difficult point in her life when she received this scary diagnosis.
“When I was diagnosed, I lost myself and I didn’t think I would find myself again,” she said. “I had to quit swimming, which I absolutely loved and wanted to continue in college, but passing out in the water during a race was a wake-up call for me for many reasons. Having to quit swimming, I questioned what I was supposed to do with my life because I’ve always loved being active. I felt sorry for myself for about 48 hours and then decided I wasn’t going to let my chronic illness change my life anymore. And that's when I decided I would put all my time into bowling and I couldn’t have made a better decision.”
However, her disorder never got the best of her. McGarrity continued to remain strong and never gave up on her passion. “Bowling is and has been an out for me. I’ve been on the brink of a seizure, crying because of pain and throwing up in between shots at tournaments to prove to myself that I am bigger and better than my illness and I never plan to stop,” she said. “I fight my illness everyday and will for the rest of my life, but it has taught me how strong I truly am. I am also so thankful for my past and current teammates for constantly pushing me to fight my illness, because it truly is only a small part of me in my eyes.”
McGarrity’s story is quite inspirational. She never allowed her diagnosis to take over her life. She continued to fight and her persistence has led her to become a captain of the team and a role model to many young athletes. The Adelphi community can be encouraged by McGarrity’s strength, determination and bravery.