Bocce Bonanza Brings Inclusion to the Court in Edmonton

Cassie Shaw (top-left) and members of the Blessed Oscar Romero Unified Bocce team at the Metro Bocce Bonanza

In 2018 Unified Sports continued to promote inclusion in high schools across the province by offering action-packed sporting events, which concluded with the first ever Metro Bocce Bonanza.

On December 18, 200 students (100 athletes, 100 partners) from high schools in Edmonton and the surrounding area came together at the Commonwealth Community Rec Centre for an exhilarating day of bocce hosted by the Metro Edmonton High School Athletic Association.

Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic High School was one of the 18 schools who participated and they were thrilled with their experience. Cassie Shaw, one of the two unified coaches at Blessed Oscar Romero, stated that while the school has only been involved for two years it has already been impactful.

“This is a great way to be creative and to get your school out there and to get all these athletes out there and not just a soccer or baseball or those typical sports - this is something that is so different,” said Cassie.

Cassie was able to play some matches with her team, including Chol But who has been playing bocce since the inception of the Unified program at Blessed Oscar Romero.

“I like bocce,” said Chol. “I like it, the way we throw to see how much points we got.”

Houssein Karad takes his shot during the Sharp Shooter contest.

Chol said that playing with his teammates and having fun were some of the reasons why Unified events, especially this one, were great to be a part of.

“I am having great fun with Patrick, Alvin, King, and Brendan, Franco, and even David,” said Chol. “They are such great teammates.”

Cassie advocated that schools looking to implement Unified Sports into their schools should do so immediately.

“There is absolutely no reason why you should not be involved,” said Cassie. “It is so fun and there is support people around you and you need support to do it myself and Mike [Wojcicki] promote it.”

The day featured impressive bocce action from everyone involved and was supported by 25 Archbishop O’Leary Catholic High School students who volunteered to monitor the courts and help keep score.

Beyond traditional bocce matches, Metro also included a Sharp Shooter contest for athletes from each school to take one shot for a chance to win Edmonton Oil Kings tickets provided by Global Edmonton.

After an incredibly close contest Houssein Karad of École Alexandre-Tache walked away with the Sharp Shooter title.

Calvin McCarty, Jordan Hoover, and Ryan King of the Edmonton Eskimos stopped by to chat with the athletes, take photos, and sign autographs.

“I mean this is incredible,” said Jordan Hoover on the event. “We had the invitation to join and participate and you know it’s been very rewarding and it has been an incredible experience overall.”

The three also joined in on the action to play a few matches with the athletes and Hoover was pleasantly surprised by their skills.

Jordan Hoover and other members of the Eskimos played bocce with the athletes and signed autographs

“Bring your ‘A’ game because there is a lot of kids in here that really know how to play bocce,” said Jordan. “I thought that I might be able to come in here and show them a couple of things, but I think I am the one that walked away with the most lessons learned.”

In partnership with Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA), Unified Sports continues to grow and spread the message of inclusion throughout the province.

For more information on Unified events or if your school is interested in hosting a Unified event, check out our Unified Sports page.

Thank you to the following high schools for playing unified and celebrating inclusion through sport:

École Alexandre-Tache Junior and Senior High School, Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School, Archbishop O’Leary Catholic High School, Beaumont Composite High School, Bellerose Composite High School, Bev Facey Community High, Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic High School, Eastglen High School, Fort Saskatchewan High School, L.Y. Cairns High School, Leduc Composite High School, M.E. LaZerte High School, St. Albert Catholic High School, St. André Bessette High School, St. Francis Xavier High School, St. Peter the Apostle Catholic High School, Sturgeon Composite High School, and W.P. Wagner School.