At the ATS Butentor athletic club in Bremen, Germany, one of their foundational mottos is displayed prominently – “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” On these grounds, Special Olympics Bremen’s national bocce team gathers to practice, to embody the fairness and unity of sport. Scrimmaging against each other, the Special Olympics USA bocce athletes and Unified partners joined the Lebenshilfe Bremen team, which operates through a local social services organization for individuals with disabilities.
Special Olympics USA bocce athlete Brian Johnson of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, was introduced to three German athletes who will compete in the Special Olympics World Games during the scrimmage on June 13. Meeting the competition, Brian was quick to observe how his strategy could improve. “It was very interesting, they’re pretty good,” said Brian. “I think we’ve got competition.”
Thankfully, Brian rarely competes alone, supported by his Unified partner David Young. The two met nearly 20 years ago, and since, they’ve never had to roll alone. From playing as a twosome, to playing with competitors from across the world, the sense of camaraderie in playing together becomes universal.