Students from Archbishop John Carroll High School and St. Katherine Day School, one of four Schools of Special Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, have collaborated to compete on a Unified Indoor Bocce team this winter through Special Olympics Interscholastic Unified Sports.
The first regular season match was contested Jan. 23, when Carroll/St. Katherine hosted Souderton before a standing room only crowd in Carroll’s East Gymnasium. It was a remarkable atmosphere: the National Anthem was sung by the Carroll Chorus, Carroll’s cheerleaders provided plenty of spirit and sportsmanship was evident throughout the match, which Souderton won 2-0.
The Carroll/St. Katherine’s team is coached by Ed Scanlon, a highly-respected teacher at Carroll, who is invested in the growth and learning of all students on and off the court.
Special Olympics PA is partnering with high schools throughout the state, and provides funding support, resources, and technical guidance. In 2017-18, there were partnerships with 118 high schools in 23 counties and the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Archbishop Carroll/St. Katherine’s team is the first Unified Sports Catholic school team in the state.
“This is a historic and groundbreaking moment, as it is the first time in the state that a sanctioned Special Olympics PA Interscholastic Unified Sports program is being offered by any private school,” said Mike Bovino, senior advisor for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. “Having students from Archbishop Carroll and St. Katherine’s practice and compete together on one team as equal peers promotes unity, full inclusion, and school pride. We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
The season runs through early March.
Practices are held at least twice a week after school, and the team will participate in a minimum of three competitions against other high school Unified Indoor Bocce teams. A regional championship will be held in early March, followed by an opportunity to advance to the state championships held in conjunction with other PIAA state events.
About Special Olympics Pennsylvania Interscholastic Unified Sports
Special Olympics Interscholastic Unified Sports® (IUS) is a fully-inclusive co-ed after school high school sports program which successfully brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities. By providing opportunities for students both with all types of disabilities and without disabilities to participate in sports meaningfully and by engaging other students in the school community, Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) helps promote inclusion, acceptance, and respect. The Special Olympics Interscholastic Unified Sports program is supported by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), the Bureau of Special Education, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.