La Plata High School senior Skyler Smith, center wearing sash, designed and created a bocce court for the Unified Bocce team at the school to use. Students on the team did not have a certified bocce court at the school and were using empty hallways and traveling to a nearby recreational center to practice. Now students can practice in confidence at the school with help from Smith.

LA PLATA, Md. – Students on the Unified Bocce team at La Plata High School lacked necessary resources when it came time to practice at the school. Bocce is a sport played on a bocce court, or an area of play featuring a hard surface and the team did not have a certified bocce court to practice on at the school. The team practiced in a hallway without the bounds that a bocce court allows for making it more difficult to have accurate practices. The need for a proper bocce court was evident, so Skyler Smith, senior at La Plata, created one.

After playing on the bocce team throughout high school, Smith concluded that having a Bocce court is a necessity. “I knew that I wanted to do a project based on unified sports but wasn’t sure what I needed to do,” she said. “After being involved, I noticed that having a bocce court is a necessity because we practice in the hallway without a court so we could not get a realistic feel.”

The lack of resources did not stop the teams at La Plata from placing in this year’s Special Olympics Maryland Unified Indoor Bocce State Championship. La Plata Team 2 earned second place and a silver medal and Team 1 earned fifth. The team would travel to the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf twice a week to practice, not ideal situation for the team. The new court will give the current and future teams an opportunity to continuously be involved in bocce to have the proper tools for a successful practice.

The court was presented to the current bocce team in a brief ceremony at the school with a recognition presented by La Plata Principal Douglass Dolan. “Skyler, on behalf of La Plata High School, we would like to express our appreciation for all you have done, and we thank you for this portable bocce court,” Dolan said. Smith designed, built and donated a portable bocce court.

Smith is excited to graduate this year and has plans to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to play softball.

Unified sports teams are composed of a combination of students with and without disabilities who train together and compete against other unified teams. The goal of bocce is to roll a bocce ball closest to a target ball, which is called a pallina. Teams earn points for how close their bocce balls roll or end near the pallina.

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