Written by Sofia Stocco, Student Journalist
On Friday, March 31st, St. Joseph's Catholic High School (Barrie) took home gold at the Special Olympics bocce ball tournament. The event was hosted by the Barrie Sports Dome as well as organized by Special Olympics Ontario, and there was an outstanding turnout from eight schools in the Simcoe region! It was an amazing day filled with wonderful athletes who don't let any disabilities hold them back and great volunteers, and sponsored by the Ontario Police.
The Special Olympics is a foundation in over 169 countries whose goal it is to make the world healthier and more welcoming for all athletes and competitors despite size or shape. The Ontario branch reached out to secondary schools in the Simcoe region to include younger sportspersons in a variety of different team-based games and sports. On March 31st, they held the bocce ball tournament at Barrie Sports Dome, with help from the Barrie Police, Paul Grasby, and volunteers from St. Joseph's Catholic High School (SJO).
In fact, many police stations make the Special Olympics their main charity, including the Barrie stations, with millions donated annually. The Barrie Police support the initiative by being in attendance at the games, even forming a high-five tunnel for when the different schools came in! The games also would not have been possible without the organizing and planning from School Event Developer Paul Grasby, who worked hard to make the Special Olympic idea a reality. Along with Grasby as the head coordinator, many volunteers from St. Joseph's played a hand in arranging and running the event. Both teachers and educational assistants were in attendance, and many SJO students helped by running events and refereeing the games.
The day started off at 10:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony and warm-ups as a group for all eight secondary schools in attendance, including Bear Creek, BML Lakers, Huron Heights, St. Peter's, and St. Joseph's. After a long day with many bocce games and pair ups, the semi-final teams were Bear Creek and BML Lakers, with the winning team of Bear Creek going against St. Joseph's. The St. Joe's Jaguars athletes have been practicing and training for these games for the past few weeks, and they did the school proud winning the entire tournament in the finals and taking home gold! St. Joseph's athletes all did an amazing job and had a fabulous day playing bocce with their teammates while making new friends and representing their school and community. The day ended at 1:30, with many tired volunteers and competitors alike leaving with smiles on their faces.
Alexandra, a grade 11 student at St. Joseph's who volunteered at the games, said; "It's really nice how teachers and volunteers can work together to organize an amazing event like the Special Olympics so that students with disabilities can have the chance to participate in fun group activities in a safe and friendly environment."
St. Joseph's will now host the round of Special Olympic floor hockey at their school on April 20th. Let's go Jags!