New team rolls into season


Bocce Ball team takes a break and poses for a team picture. The team will play at their first official match on Jan. 24.

Kennedy Sheriff, Reporter

This year Big Spring High School welcomes a new edition to their assortment of athletic programs: a unified bocce ball team. The team is made up of special and regular education students, who meet twice a week to improve upon their bocce ball skills. The idea for the team was brought to the school’s attention last year by William Gillet, Director of Pupil Personnel.

Gillet said, “Last year one of our neighboring school districts, Northern York, started a team and asked if we would be interested in playing them. We thought it was a great idea and contacted Special Olympics to see what was involved.” The idea for the team only grew from there. The district originally talked about starting the team last year, but as the conclusion of winter sport’s came closer, they decided to push it back to this year, in order to be more prepared for the season. They reached out for coaches and found three: Maria Boyd, Gregory Ellerman, and Alexa Moran. After finding the coaches they were approved by the school board, and reached out to the Special Olympics. They received a grant to cover supplies and everything they needed aside from transportation. Special Olympics employees came to provide the coaches of our Big Spring team with training. The last step in their process was finding players. They successfully found eight players, who are now on the team’s roster.

“As a first year team it’s been a little more challenging than we originally thought to find participants because this is a PIAA sport and the athletes can’t also be playing another winter sport,” said Gillet. Having successfully found their team though, the brand new bocce ball team began practicing and learning the basics of bocce ball.

One of these players, Jamie Clark, shared that he has improved since practices have begun. He also said, “Here’s one goal, not getting stressed when I roll the ball too much.” He references rolling the ball too hard, a common issue in the game of bocce ball. Throwing the ball to hard can cause it to go out of bounds, in which case the ball would be considered a dead ball, and would be taken out of play. The goal of the game is to roll the bocce ball the close to the pallino. The pallino is the smaller ball that is rolled first, and creates the regimen for where each player should roll their ball. The team in charge of rolling the pallino and going first is commonly decided by a coin toss, and that team must roll the pillino in bounds. Whichever team is currently the closest to the pillino is known as the “inside team” and when an inside team is determined, the play passes to the “outside team” whose goal is to roll their bocce ball closer. If it is not visually obvious who is closer, there must be a measurement. If the ball is rolled too far, the ball is no longer close to the pallino, and the other team becomes more likely to score. The inside team is awarded points at the end of the frame. The match is stopped at a point total of twelve, and the winning team must win by two points.

“I felt the bocce ball team was a good opportunity to promote social inclusion in our school, “ said Maria Boyd, a coach of the team. Gillet seems to agree, and said, “The sport provides a unique opportunity for our students who are PIAA athletes to get to know and work with our students who are Special Olympics athletes. I see lots of positives.” Active players at the end of the season will receive a school letter to show for their accomplishments. Their season officially starts on Jan. 24, when they play their first match. “We also hope it will also provide an opportunity for them to earn some recognition amongst the student body by being able to represent our school in an athletic activity. It would be great to someday have a state championship team!” said Gillet. Those involved in the planning of the bocce ball team hope to expand the amount of unified sports, clubs, and activities offered at Big Spring High School in the future, and to get more students involved through these activities.