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Pamela Cannon (Harrington)
Nicole Baker (Newark), Rory DiLouie (Lewes), Charles Permint (Milford), Kimberly Strunk (Milford)
The sport of bocce is a methodical game requiring a player to make a decision as to which direction their ball should roll and then, whether trying to snug it up close to the pallino or knocking an opponent’s ball away from it, executing it precisely for the benefit of their team.
The sport is often played outdoors on a beach or in the backyard, but for four Delawareans representing Team Delaware at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, they’ll be playing the game in an entirely new, and somewhat intimidating environment.
The bocce competition will take place inside the Veracruz Exhibit Hall at the Coronado Springs Resort on the Walt Disney World complex. Sixteen courts with carpeted surfaces will be surrounded by hundreds of onlooking spectators lining the walls of the room. Without question, it will be the largest and most populous venue the four teammates have ever seen.
“At the beginning of practice, when we are doing warm up exercises, we make announcements and talk about the Florida trip,” said head coach Pam Cannon, who has coached bocce during the fall and spring seasons for the Sussex Riptide since 2015. “I always try to remind the athletes that there are going to be other athletes from all over, and I believe I read that bocce and bowling have the most athletes participating. So we talk a bit about what we are going to see and what the atmosphere will be like in Florida.”
Nicole Baker, Rory DiLouie, Charles Permint and Kimberly Strunk have been practicing diligently since early fall. Each worked on their own “game” individually playing with their Area bocce teams during the fall season while sprinkling in a mix of practice sessions together as a team.
“I believe the four athletes enjoy being together,” Cannon said. “Three of them have played bocce together in the past, for Sussex Riptide, so they knew each other from practicing together. The fourth athlete has joined in well.”
All of the players will compete in the foursome event and then Rory and Nicole will team up for the doubles competition, as will Charles and Kim.
Like every other athlete and team attending the USA Games, the ultimate goal for the four Delaware bocce players is to win the gold medal. However, the experiences they’ll gain will far outweigh any medallion hanging around their neck.
“We have talked about good sportsmanship, doing our best, but also enjoying the trip,” Cannon explained. “We have talked about watching our fellow Team Delaware athletes when they are competing in other sports.”
For more information about Team Delaware, click here.