By Sue Perguidi, USA Games Bocce Coach, Special Olympics Massachusetts
I was so excited to be asked to coach the Special Olympics Massachusetts bocce team going to USA Games. The team consists of four girls: two from my Greater Springfield team, Carolyn Wojcik and Lynn Gadoury and two from the South High team, Vicki Flowers and Heather St.Germain.
We are very fortunate, as the Dante Club of West Springfield has donated the use of their indoor court as a training facility. They did the same for the last USA Games bocce team from Special Olympics Massachusetts. Two of the Dante Club members, Bobby and Mike are there every Sunday, lending the girls their expertise while loving to help in their training. They also supply pizza and drinks every week, which I’m sure is a drawing incentive. At the end of the team’s training, the Dante Club is giving the girls each a beautiful Dante Club windbreaker. They have also offered to have a fundraiser for our team. Without their generous donation of their indoor court, winter practice would have been very difficult.
Practice started the 1st of January and continues every Sunday from noon to 2:00 pm. All the girls have been so loyal about attending every week and have formed a wonderful bond of friendship between themselves. They have said that they wished they lived closer together.
One of our players, Heather St.Germain, works at Dunkin’ Donuts in Worcester every Saturday night from 11 pm to 6 am. She goes home from work, sleeps two hours, then gets up and is driven to practice — a 45-minute ride each way for her. She’s so dedicated, there was even one instance where she never went to bed before coming to practice. Heather is a very positive person, always with a smile on her face, encouraging other members of her team and never complaining about being tired. She is truly an inspiration for everyone. One week she came to practice with two boxes of fancy donuts that she decorated herself for everyone.
The girls are all doing so well and are so looking forward to the Special Olympics USA Games and all the fun that goes with it. I feel so privileged to be a part of this very special bocce team.