Gold Award project provides a pavilion to match bocce court
STEVENSVILLE — Kent Island High School has the regular assortment of sports programs people think of — football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball. In recent years, the school has added as equestrian team (the only one in a public high school on the Eastern Shore), a sailing team and bocce ball.
Bocce ball is a part of the unified sports program that was started across Maryland six years ago. It is affiliated with Special Olympics and designed to give students with intellectual disabilities or other special needs a chance to participate in a varsity sport at the high school level. A team is made up of athletes, those students with disabilities, and partners, those students who do not have a disability.
Para Educator Renee Kinder, who has worked with students at KI High the past six years and in the county schools the past 16 years, is the head coach.
The school recently added an outdoor bocce court and pavilion. The pavilion was the work of Ambassador Girl Scout Breanna Sipes, working toward earning her Gold Award in Scouting (the Girl Scout equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle Award). Breanna is a member of Troop 869.
As a Gold Award service project, the outdoor pavilion built to go along with the bocce court, had to benefit the community in some way. As a bocce player herself, Breanna wants to see interest in the sport grow.
With the outdoor court, the game can now be played or practiced anytime at the school, and the pavilion provides shelter.
Gold Award projects involve seven steps: identify an issue; investigate it thor- oughly; get help and build your team; create a plan; present your plan and gather feedback; take action; and educate and inspire.
Bocce is one of the oldest sports in the world. History revels that it was played by the ancient Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks and Roman warriors to pass the time between battles. Instead of using the handsized (a little larger than a softball, but more weighted) balls used today, the ancients used rocks. The balls, or rocks in ancient times, have to be thrown underhand.
The game can be played between two, four or eight players in one match. Depending on the number of players determines how many balls each player can roll in the competition. The game begins with the flip of a coin between two teams. The winner tosses (rolls underhand) the first smaller or object ball, that ball called a “palina,” which is a distinct color. The palina marks the area on the bocce court that all other following balls tossed must pass inside the remaining area of the court. The object of all other balls rolled is to get the closest to the palina without actually touching it. The team that does that gets a point(s) following each series of balls thrown, which does not exceed four balls in each set.
After all four balls are rolled and the closest ball(s) is/are awarded a point(s), the competitors turn in the opposite direction on the court, and the palina is thrown out again by the winner of the first frame to start the next frame of the match and again determine the area where the balls will be thrown. Each team continues the process until one team reaches 16 points to determine the winner of the match.
The new bocce court and pavilion was dedicated at Kent Island High School Sunday afternoon, Sept. 18. The pavilion and scoreboard shown are the result of a Girl Scout Gold Award Service Project completed by KIHS student Breanna Sipes. From the left, students Hannah Thompson, Journey Taylor, Coach Reneé Kinder, student assistant coaches Mikey Younger and Indy Wilson, and Gold Award candidate Breanna Sipes. The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.