The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk

The Student News Site of Stephen Decatur High School

The Hawk


Rollin’ With Bocce

New SDHS Unified team takes on the classic lawn game
The Hawk photo
(L to R) Athletic Director Dan Dobronz, Michael Jones, Raymond Molnar, Garrett Maloney, Sully Auker, Brycen Coleman, Aidan Scott, Nate Tapley, Griffin Smith, Blaine Coleman, and Coach Jake Coleman.

Connect, combine, integrate, collaborate, togetherness – all words we think of when we hear the word “unify.”

No one likes to stand out or not be included, made fun of, or avoided. We see bullying and exclusion in high schools nationwide.

To combat this and bring people together, many high schools are coming together and creating Unified sports teams at their school.

Pioneered by the Special Olympics, these teams are for males, females, kids with special needs, and anyone else who wants to participate.

This spring season brings the Unified sport of Bocce Ball here at Stephen Decatur High School. This is massive for many kids who have not had the confidence to try out for a team or been denied the opportunity to be on a team. It gives them the opportunity to experience the feeling of being on a sports team and competing against others.

Brycen Coleman demonstrates a roll during practice March 27 as teammates look on. The goal of bocce is to land a ball as close as possible to the target. (The Hawk photo)




Coach Jake Coleman said how his own sons can participate together is what he is most excited about for this upcoming season, and why he chose to coach the sport.

“I am really passionate about it,” said team coach Jake Coleman, a health and P.E. teacher who also is the head football coach. “My middle son is on the spectrum and this is a sport that Blaine can participate in, and it is even more exciting, because his older brother Brycen is going to do with him.

“So,” he added, “it’ll be the first and only time that two of my three boys will be competing in the same sport and working together.”

Bocce is a great game for anyone. It requires little to no athleticism, but a ton of intelligence and hand-eye coordination.

The game starts with two teams deciding which will go first and that team throws out the pallino (a smaller ball used as the target) from behind a foul line.

The same team then throws a second ball as close as they can to the pallino. The turn shifts to the opposite team, who then tries to get their ball closer to the pallino.

Points are scored at the end of each round by the team with the closest ball to the pallino. Points are awarded only to the team that came closer to the pallino; two points are awarded if a bocce ball is actually touching the pallino. The team that wins the rounds starts the next round. This process continues until one team reaches 13 points, when the game ends.

The team consists of students ranging from football players to wrestlers, and kids who also are members of the Unified Strength and Conditioning team – a team that won a state title earlier this year on its very first try.

One thing most of these kids have in common is being a Maryland State Champion. Many of these kids before this year haven’t experienced the feeling of winning a state championship and now that they have, they are hungry for another and desperate to bring that feeling to the others on the team that haven’t.

“I love it, the fact that it’s a Unified sport with lots of inclusion, to being able to bring the kids together and create new and strong bonds between these students,” Coleman said.

Being able to coach both his sons at the same time, “it means a lot, especially being a dad, and to let those guys go out there and compete and have fun,” Coleman added.

“The ultimate goal that we will have the mentality for from day one is to win the championship and bring another state title to the school.”

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