August 2015 - Jacob Pettigrew, a sophomore at Wellington High School, seized the opportunity presented to him to start playing boccia ball (pronounced ‘bot-cha’ like the word: gotcha) competitively and attended the national tournament in Gardener, KS this past summer.
Pettigrew has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and is in a wheelchair. Jacob’s grandfather, Bob Logan is his coach and both are brand new to boccia.
One of Pettigrew’s doctors at Children’s Mercy encouraged him to start playing after Pettigrew attended the Challenge Games in Derby as a spectator and witnessed boccia ball for the first time. In a short time Pettigrew was the proud owner of a set of boccia balls, valued at several hundred dollars—a gift made possible by the people involved in boccia ball—and was ready to commit to a regular training schedule.
Pettigrew and Logan teamed up and began practicing daily to prepare for the national tournament, which happened to be held in Gardner, KS this year. The tournament took place over a four-day period and had 51 competitors. Pettigrew was placed into the BC4 Class along with four others and was excited to place 1st individually and 2nd in team play.
Pettigrew says playing boccia both energizes and exhausts him. “The sport is actually pretty difficult,” says Pettigrew. “You have to learn your angles and how to toss it and you have to stay within the box lines so you don’t get out of bounds.”
“It was my first time,” Pettigrew continues. “I liked hanging out with new people and finding out what happened to them. Most of them were veterans and had lost a limb.” Pettigrew plans to keep in touch with his new friends.
Pettigrew’s placement at nationals will give him an invitation to the World Tournament, Logan said. “Maybe it will be in Montreal,” Logan says, “but not sure we can make that happen without a sponsor.”
But it still must feel good to have gotten this far so quickly. Congratulations, Jacob!