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CASTINE, Maine – Maine Maritime Academy’s athletics department, in conjunction with the NCAA Division III, partnered with the Special Olympics of Maine to host the third annual Unified Bocce Tournament Wednesday, April 17 on Richie Field.
According to Mark Capano, Program Director for the Special Olympics, 24 teams from Penobscot, Piscataquis and Hancock counties participated in this year’s event. In total there were ninety-six athletes – more than any previous year.
“We’re proud of the relationship we and the NCAA, have with Special Olympics,” said Steve Peed, MMA Athletic Director. “The bocce tournament is a fun and popular event with our students who look forward to it every year. I have students eager to get involved months before we’ve begun the planning phase for the event. It’s that popular.”
The event also brought out approximately fifty MMA students who volunteered their time throughout the day to help with the event in one way or another.
“What’s really great about this event for our student athletes is that they get to see people competing just for the sake of competing and it reopens their eyes to what competition is really about,” Peed added.
“Everyone should have a chance to experience the thrill of competing with one another in a healthy, supportive environment,” said Keenan Eaton, a junior Marine Systems Engineering Student at MMA and volunteer at the event. “Events like this allow that to happen and I'm glad I helped to bring them such an enjoyable experience.”
At the end of the tournament, each athlete was awarded a ribbon signifying the team’s placement in the tournament. Some athletes expressed their excitement for next year’s event; one athlete encouraged the athletics department staff to put together an Academy team to compete so there would be even more people to play against next year.
The mission of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage , experience joy and participate in sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 16 degree programs in engineering, management, science and transportation. For more information, visit mainemaritime.edu