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Corollary sports program making changes

Manchester Valley team captain Nicky Halberstam tosses a ball in 2012 Carroll County Unified Indoor Bocce Championship at Winters Mill High School in Westminster Nov. 12.
Manchester Valley team captain Nicky Halberstam tosses a ball in 2012 Carroll County Unified Indoor Bocce Championship at Winters Mill High School in Westminster Nov. 12. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

The county's Corollary Athletic Program made some changes this year, and those who are participating seem to be happy with the result.

The third-year program, which focuses on giving students with developmental disabilities an opportunity to compete in athletics, partnered with the Special Olympics to bring bocce ball to Carroll in the fall. Bowling remains the winter sport, and when the spring season begins, track and field is slated to replace indoor softball.

Jim Rodriguez, the county's supervisor of athletics, said 17 students took part in bocce. Close to 40 are involved in bowling, and one of the matches took place last Monday when Century faced Liberty at Freedom Lanes in Eldersburg.

Seven of the county's eight high schools put together bowling teams, some a mix of general ed and special ed students.

Century coach Vicky Grant said she has a core of athletes who enjoy bowling, and her numbers have grown over the years.

"The first year was difficult, because the whole concept is to try and get general ed kids in, and we have a hard time getting that," said Grant, a special education teacher at Century. "But we picked up [some] freshmen this year. ... They love it. They definitely have fun."

Grant said her bowlers practice once a week inside the school, and some use video-game technology to work on their hand-eye coordination, so when it's time to hit the lanes the students are ready.

Century freshman Joseph Brosenne is a bowling newcomer this year. Brosenne said he joined up because his older sister, Rosie, a senior, was on the team and having a good time.

"I wanted to do something after school, because I had football [in the fall]," said Brosenne, who works on technique and scoring when he plays. "It's been really fun."

Grant said Century has only fielded a corollary bowling team, but with new sports being introduced the hope is to increase participation numbers.

Lorraine Thomas didn't know how her students at Manchester Valley would react when the program introduced bocce in the fall.

That is, until Thomas' students started to play.

That's when the squad fell in love with its new activity, Thomas said, and at the end-of-season tournament in November the Mavericks made their practice pay off by winning the championship.

"We love floor hockey, so we were disappointed we were giving up floor hockey for something we'd never heard of before," said Thomas, MV's coach and a reading teacher at the school. "All it took was one time to show my kids how to play it, and they loved it. They came to practices regularly, it's a fun game. It surprised me that I liked it as much as I did."

Thomas said Manchester Valley had five students on the bocce team, and other schools around the county put together teams of similar size.

Rodriguez said he hopes interest grows for the new spring track program and enough students come out to field teams. It seems the biggest hurdle is getting students to join in, because when they do the results are usually the same.

"It's so beneficial for all the kids, in all different aspects," Rodriguez said. "We need to do a lot of leg work to push the participation. You just need to get a little bit of momentum to get things going. Then it's being part of a team, meeting new people and making new friends.

"It's realizing things like, 'Hey, we're all the same.'"

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