Unity is strength in Unified Bocce

This is the team’s first year back on the bocce court since the start of the Covid pandemic in 2019. The goal of the game is to get the bocce ball closest to the Pallina reach 12 points.


Kelsea Clarke

Anticipation awaits…Having her turn to roll the bocce ball, Unified Bocce player McKenna Murphy hopes to get the ball close to the Pallina. The team was online last year, so this is their first year back and doing meets.

     At the start of January, the bocce team won their first meet of the season against North Penn High School, which ended in a tie-breaker round. 

         “There was a lot of anticipation for getting ready to get out there and do our best, include everybody, and be supportive of one another which was probably one of the best memories overall,” senior Hannah Lavery said.

        There are about 16 players on the team, and they practice two times a week for an hour and a half. They have four meets, and they compete for the county championship, and then the state championship. The season started in late November and runs for about three months. 

           “As the season goes on we’re all going to improve and our strengths are going to become stronger and we’re going to bond more as a team,” senior Bridget Byrne said. 

           According to Byrne, one of the most important skills to have in bocce is determination. “Sometimes you’ll roll the ball out and it might not be as close as you want it or it might not be how you predicted it, but just have the perseverance and determination to do it again and keep getting better,” Byrne said. 

           For Lavery, having “patience and an open mind” is the biggest thing for this sport. You have to have that open mind and that mindset of “okay, I’m here to make this a great environment for them and make them feel included in school sports,” Lavery said. 

             “There’s not a ton of prerequisite skills as far as speed, agility, strength. You don’t have to be super strong or super fast or super quick in order to play bocce,” athletic director Dennis Stanton said. 

             Something that makes this sport stand out is how supportive everyone is. 

“People are more supportive of your goals and your achievements that you make than I feel like some sports are. Everyone there wants to see you succeed,” Byrne said. 

         ”The people in it” draw Byrneto to the sport the most. “The great thing about it is that you could have no experience doing track or bocce and it’s just so welcoming to everyone, whatever your ability is,” Byrne said. 

           Unified Bocce is “simple” for everyone and it is open for everyone to play no matter their abilities. “I think that’s what makes it really inclusive and it’s a good way for somebody that’s new to unified to get into it,” Lavery said. 

            In this sport, everyone tries their best to work together and help wherever is needed. “I think with teamwork you can have even an athlete with a lower functioning athlete and they always help each other,” Lavery said.  

            All of the team has to come together to be “successful.” 

         “They all have to work together for one common goal,” Stanton said. 

           Junior Sean Martinson thinks teamwork in Unified Bocce is important because it “helps regular and special ed students connect together” while playing. 

         Getting to work with general education students and special education students together in one sport is what makes Unified Bocce great, according to Martinson.