SUNBURY — The sleeper team of the 2021-22 sports season for the Shikellamy Braves may just be the bocce ball squad.
Team members are 10th-grader Karmeer Tilford, 17, ninth-grader, Cooper Irving, 15, ninth-grader Keenan Silks-Hunselman, 14, and ninth-grader Ryan Berry, 15.
The team won one of three games this season and is already plotting its course for next season.
"We had so much fun and we are getting better," Tilford said. "It was great to be around my friends on the team."
The team was put together by Shikellamy Special Education Director Stephanie Michaels.
Michaels spoke to members of the Special Olympics and, after gathering enough support and interest, the Special Olympics provided the district with all the equipment. Warrior Run was the only other Valley team to participate.
"We could not be more proud of those who have made bocce ball happen for our students this year," Warrior Run Superintendent Alan Hack said. The Warrior Run bocce team includes Kayleigh Bausinger, Jade Swartz, Nathan Yohn, Wyatt Smith, Frances Daniels, Chyanne Hoy and Rachel Zimmerman.
"Not only did bocce ball bring the team of students together," Hack said. "But a great deal of support has also been generated by our faculty and staff. This opportunity and experience exemplify the true spirit of community at Warrior Run."
"This allows students with and without special needs the opportunity to participate in a competitive sport," Michaels said. "I want to thank Warrior Run for hosting all of the matches this season. The students and staff who participated are hoping more districts are able to start programs next year so that more opportunities for all students throughout the Valley can participate."
One of the Shikellamy coaches, Francesca Goodman, said she heard the team was starting up and wanted to be involved.
"I wanted to help in any way I could," she said.
Berry said he loved participating this season. "We will be better next year," he said. "We are all working together and we are ready."
School Director Jennifer Wetzel said she was impressed with the team.
"I loved the bocce ball opportunity Shikellamy was able to offer to the students," she said. "It gave them an opportunity to be part of a team, compete and communicate with other students in other districts and I would love to see more of this. I thank all the coaches, administrators and parents for making this happen."