Pomfret, MD – A Unified Bocce team from Maurice J. McDonough High School received a third place state award at the Special Olympics Maryland 2016 State High School Indoor Bocce Tournament held Feb. 11 at Hagerstown Community College. The team received third place among eight teams competing in division three of the event.

Members of the team include students Ingrid Braun, senior; Keydrea Harris, freshman; Michael Malherek, senior; Aaron Morphew, sophomore; Robert Mullins, Adult Independence Program (AIP) student; Jodie Parlett, senior; and Michael Proctor, AIP student. Coaches of the team are David Bradshaw, physical education teacher at McDonough, and Jeff Mathews, special education teacher at McDonough. 

The state event was separated into four levels of competition – divisions one through four – and students from Henry E. Lackey, La Plata, McDonough and Westlake high school competed. Teams that win first place at the regional level are invited to compete at the state event. Teams are split into divisions of competition according to criteria such as age, gender and physical ability levels to ensure that all participants have equal opportunities to participate and be recognized for being a part of a team.

Unified sports teams are composed of a combination of students with and without abilities who train together and compete against other unified teams. Bocce is a sport played on a bocce court, or an area of play featuring a hard surface. The goal of the sport 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.

A total of 32 teams from schools in Allegany, Baltimore City, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Washington counties participated. CCPS partnered with Special Olympics Maryland in 2008 to offer high school students of all abilities the opportunity to participate in sports programs. Participation in the CCPS Unified sports program has increased over the past several school years. For more information, visit the Special Olympics Maryland website at http://www.somd.org/.