CASTINE, Maine -- On Thursday, April 26, Maine Maritime Academy's Department of Athletics partnered with the Penobscot Area Special Olympics to host the Eighth Annual Bocce Tournament.
"It was great to see so many people come together as a community despite the weather," said Maine Maritime Academy Assistant Women's Lacrosse Coach and a unified partner at the event, Ryland Luciano, "Competition serves as a great way to bring people together and it can bring the best out in us. You could see that at the bocce tournament."
This year 73 teams consisting of Special Olympic athletes and unified partners registered for the event and 46 teams came to Castine despite the rainy weather. Over 50 student-athletes, staff and friends helped officiate and participate in the tournament.
"The level of camaraderie, support, and respect displayed by the competitors served as a great example of sportsmanship, and I'm glad MMA and Penobscot Area Special Olympics could share this experience," added Luciano.
Maine Maritime Academy competes in NCAA Division III, which launched a Special Olympics initiative during the 2010-2011 academic year, and has since provided the opportunity for student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics, fostering a mutual learning experience between Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes.
Last year, MMA's Bocce event won the June 2017 NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll resulting in a $500 grant from the NCAA to put toward this year's tournament. When Castine's recreation committee heard Mariners Athletics wanted to order a give-away for the event, they voted to donate money as well.
"We in Athletics were so excited and appreciative of the donation we received from the Town of Castine's recreation committee to help fund the event this year," said Tricia Carver, Maine Maritime Academy's event coordinator. "It was a complete surprise! The hot cocoa/coffee mug give-away was a huge hit with all of the participants. Every year, we strive to make this event better. This year, even with all this rain, we did."
Click HERE to view additional images of the Bocce Tournament.