NPHS students find new “roll” in age old sport

Noah Zeigler, Mia Melchior, Shannon Dwyer , Jackie Galang, Julie Mumford, and Erin Chi celebrate their win.

TOWAMENCIN – Some excited and dedicated North Penn High School students are on a roll… 

North Penn has started it’s own Unified Bocce Ball team, including both Special Olympic athletes and regular athletes. Bocce is an Italian sport and is actually the 3rd most popular sport in the world. A lot of people recognize the game, playing it at the beach or in the backyard. Many parks in the North Penn area are actually building Bocce courts because of how popular it has become around the area. It used to be an old Italian drinking game, but it’s becoming more of a recreational sporty everywhere.

North Penn high school physical education teacher Kristen Panaski was very excited when she was able to receive a grant from the district to start a unified Bocce ball team.

“I had applied for a North Penn foundation grant back in the fall with the hopes that since we started a unified track team last spring, we could add another sport. Unified track was successful and the coaches asked us if we wanted to start Bocce. We needed some funding, so I applied for the foundation grant and I got that back in December,” said Kristen Panaski, coach of the Bocce Ball team.

The objective of bocce ball is to roll your ball closest to the tinier ball on the court. It is a varsity sport with three competitions and even a state championship if a team were to qualify.

“It’s awesome to be on the team. These are some of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, so it’s just nice to be able to spend time with them. They always can put a smile on my face,” said senior Mia Melchior.

There are three matches because there are only three teams in the surrounding North Penn area. The first match is next Tuesday the 23rd at Pennwood at 3pm. The match after that is home against Cheltenham on January 30th at 3pm. The last competition is also home against Souderton on February 6th at 3pm in the Columbia gym.

“This is something that’s pretty easy for everyone to understand. I think it’s fun that a lot of kids get to work together that wouldn’t normally work together. I’m hoping that our two home matches can not only build some inclusion in our building, but also some pride. People see that no matter who you are, you belong. A lot of kids on our team couldn’t exactly play a sport at North Penn, so that’s really cool,” said Panaski.

“Bocce ball is fantastic. I love cheering for my teammates, especially Mia and Julie,” said special olympic athlete, Melissa Older.

The County Championships will be held at Souderton. For teams that qualify for the state championships, it will be held in between the PIAA basketball championships in Hershey.

“Even if we don’t make it, that’s okay. Our County Championship is March 6th, so that’s our target for right now. We have matches the next three Tuesdays in a row. We are looking forward to having faculty, teachers, staff, and students to come,” said Panaski.