Introducing Boccia with Emma & Chelsea

We are pleased to introduce our new recreational therapists in-training – Chelsea Onstad and Emma Roden! These two remarkable women are interning with Sportable this spring and already have made a huge impact.

Both found Sportable from afar – Chelsea is from Michigan and Emma hails from central New York. They needed an intense internship to meet the rigorous requirements of their degrees in recreational therapy. Sharing a common passion, Chelsea and Emma plan to make a career for themselves by working with individuals with disabilities to explore their interests, abilities and goals, and to help them try new things they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunities to do.

With years of experience in adaptive skiing instruction (Emma) and special education (Chelsea), these two were prepared to try anything at Sportable. Why not start a completely new program? Under the supervision and direction of Program Manager and Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Kyle Hitzelberg, Emma and Chelsea established the inaugural Sportable Boccia Program.

Boccia can be played 1 on 1, in pairs, or in teams. The goal is gain as many points as possible by throwing your ball closer to the target (a white “jack” ball) than your opponent. The game can be played indoors or outdoors on a hard, flat surface in either individual or team play, socially or competitively. It has been a Paralympic sport since 1984. One of the great things about boccia is that it can be adapted and played by anyone, no matter their ability.

Sportable’s pilot program took place every week during the month of February at the Richmond Raceway in a large exhibition hall that provided ample room to physically distance and observe safety protocols. Without knowing what to expect in terms of participation, the program team was pleasantly surprised to have 15 people come out on the first evening and stick with it through the final session that culminated in a boccia tournament.

Because of the nature of the game and the special adaptive equipment to roll the balls, athletes with paraplegia, spina bifida, vision impairment, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities are able to participate making it the most inclusive sport that Sportable offers. Boccia will be back by popular demand later this summer!