Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 25, 2019
Athletes take on bocce at MMA
Athletes from various Special Olympics teams get ready to compete in the annual Bocce tournament on Thursday, April 18, at Maine Maritime Academy.
On Thursday, April 18, Maine Maritime Academy’s Department of Athletics partnered with the Penobscot Area Special Olympics to host the Ninth Annual Bocce Tournament.
“I look forward to working the Bocce Tournament every year,” women’s basketball senior Amanda Holewiak said in a news release. “It is a great way for us to give back to the surrounding communities. The teams exemplify the highest level of sportsmanship and passion for the game.”
This year 73 teams consisting of Special Olympic athletes and unified partners registered for the event and traveled to Castine. Over 70 student-athletes, coaches, staff and friends helped officiate and participated in the tournament.
“It was great to see so many people come out and make Thursday’s Special Olympics event so successful,” said Maine Maritime sophomore John Friend, who plays on the football team. “I know everyone enjoyed the day and I am already looking forward to next year’s event.”
Maine Maritime Academy competes in NCAA Division III, which launched a Special Olympics initiative during the 2010-2011 academic year, and has since provided the opportunity for student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics, fostering a mutual learning experience between Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes.
“Our Ninth Annual Special Olympics Bocce Tournament was another community success,” said LaSashia Connelly, Maine Maritime Academy’s event coordinator. “We are very thankful to have the support of our student-athletes, coaches and other staff members who showed up for a huge day. With almost 300 athletes competing in the tournament it was impressive to see how many people came together to make the event run smoothly. We are so thankful for the Castine community and the support that surrounds our athletic department.”
For the past two years, MMA’s Bocce event has won a NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll resulting in a $500 grant from the NCAA to put toward the following year’s tournament.