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In this edition of our Parasport Series, we are excited to share the sport Boccia, as shared by none other than Boccia athletes Lois Martin and Kristyn Collins from Team Boccia Canada!
A message from Lois and Kristyn for those who may not know of Boccia: The sport of boccia is one for all, regardless of abilities. It is a sport that currently doesn’t have an Olympic counterpart, so it is played at the international Paralympic level only. There are 6 classifications in total, however, only 4 are recognized by the international governing body, World Boccia. Athletes with the classifications of BC1, BC2, BC3, and BC4 compete internationally. Boccia Canada recognizes the other two classes as well: BC5 and Open. We have done some work already to encourage these classes to be recognized by World Boccia but it is a work in progress. You can play for fun, at the club/local, provincial, national, or even international level. For example, Kristyn and Lois have been participating at the international level and are going to be heading to the Parapan Ams in Santiago this November! To find out how to play the sport watch our Boccia 101 video here.
LOIS MARTIN, BC1 Boccia Athlete
Share a bit about who you are and how you got involved in boccia: I am Lois Martin a 31 year old female BC1 Boccia player on the Canadian National Team. I am from St John’s, Newfoundland. I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair for mobility. When not playing or practicing boccia I love to spend time with my 120 pound Great Dane, Luna. I have always enjoyed swimming, horseback riding and skiing but I was not at a competitive level. I fell in love with boccia because I could play competitively and everyone of all abilities could play.
Did you have a role model growing up? If so, who?: My role model growing up was Margaret Tibbo, the recreation therapist at the local rehabilitation center. She got me involved in horseback riding, swimming, skiing and boccia. She taught me that even though I had a disability I was more than my disability. She taught me that with adaptions anyone could enjoy sports and activities.
Why is being physically active important to you?: Being physically active is good for both my mind and body. Practices and competitions test my body’s endurance. It helps build my muscles and gets my heart pumping and lungs working. More importantly being physically active helps my mind. In a sport like boccia it is really important to have a positive attitude. To combat the spasticity in my muscles from cerebral palsy I must learn to calm my brain. I use breathing and meditation techniques to help calm myself. The great thing is that while this helps with boccia I can also use the same calming techniques in my everyday life.
What is something you would tell your younger self?: I would tell my younger self that reaching my goal will have ups and downs. There will be hard times but also good times that I will give me memories that will last forever. I would tell myself NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP. Put your head down, calm yourself and breath and keep plugging away. It’s worth it!
KRISTYN COLLINS, BC2 Boccia Athlete
Share a bit about who you are and how you got involved in boccia: My name is Kristyn Collins and I am 34 years old and I have Cerebral Palsy. I got involved in Boccia through a Recreation Program through Easter Seals. I started playing in 2012 when I was 22 years old.
Did you have a role model growing up? If so, who?: I didn’t have any role model growing up.
Why is being physically active important to you?: Being physically active is important to me because not only does it keep my body healthy but it makes me feel good about myself and it’s important to keep your body moving and your mind sharp. It’s very
good for your mental and physical well being.
What is something you would tell your younger self?: I would tell my younger self that anything is possible if you surround yourself with people who share your values and believe in your dreams. Your cerebral palsy is only a small part of who you are but does not define you, and to use it as motivation to reach your full potential.
Thank you so much to Lois Martin and Kristyn Collins from the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association for sharing their invaluable insights and experiences with us. Be sure to stay in the loop with both athletes by visiting Boccia Canada.
Interested in learning to play Boccia? Be sure to get in touch with Jennifer Larson, Program Manager, Boccia Canada where she will guide you to the right province or club in your area!