Unified Bocce Team advances to playoff game

Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s Unified Bocce Team won both home games they played and celebrated the contributions of their seniors during competitions held on Feb. 14 and 15. 

The wins are the latest in the team’s successful 3-1 season. The team, which is coached by Ryan Zehren, will advance to the playoff game on March 1 at Harriton High School.

The Unified Bocce Team is made up of students with special needs and students without special needs, and is part of the Unified Sports program. The Unified Sports program is designed to promote inclusion and break down barriers and has been gaining momentum among high schools in the Montgomery County area. Plymouth Whitemarsh High School has been participating for three years, but the pause due to the pandemic has made it feel as though this is really only year two, said Coach Zehren.

“Each year, more teams seem to be jumping on board, which is great. I hope we can get enough teams so that there is a Suburban One League or a Central League like there is for the other varsity sports, and it just becomes the norm that every school has a Unified Bocce team just like they have a basketball or baseball team,” he said. 

During the Feb. 15 match against Upper Perkiomen High School, the students could be seen working together to determine the best strategies for getting the bocce ball closest to the jack, which is a smaller ball that is rolled out at the start of the game. Their strategic discussions clearly worked, as the team won both matches played over the course of two days. 

Prior to the Feb. 15 match, the seniors were celebrated for their contributions to the team and had the chance to be announced and make an entrance with their caregivers. The seniors include Chris McLaughlin, Kyle Brady, Lupita Rubio and Jared Liberman.