Over 200 Special Olympic athletes descended on nine courts spread across the Shattuck-St. Mary’s dome Saturday.
They were present for the Area 9 and 10 bocce ball Special Olympics tournament.
The state is carved up into 13 areas. Area 9 includes Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan counties. Area 10 includes Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties.
All athletes who participated are eligible to move on to the state tournament Sept. 28-29.
It was the first year the event was held at the SSM dome in Faribault after Rochester hosted in recent years. Athletes and organizers appreciated the hospitality as well as the assurance that inclement weather would not be a factor indoors.
“We’re really grateful Shattuck was able to host us and we’d like to continue that relationship,” said Tri-City United coach Melissa Bell.
TCU sent seven athletes to the tournament. The Faribault Flash did not field a team.
Bocce ball is one of the more accessible Special Olympic sports. The tournament also accommodated athletes of varying skill levels.
Tournament divisions included singles, doubles, unified doubles and modified. The modified division featured a modified court for those who needed a ramp or other aids. Unified doubles pairs a Special Olympics athlete with a non-Special Olympics athlete.
Lunch was also provided for competitors.
“The athletes really loved this sport,” Bell said. “It’s one of those sports we can do at any ability.”