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Parasiliti: Weeks, Wilt draw winning hand together

February 26, 2012
  • The Boonsboro Unified Indoor Bocce team celebrates after winning the state championship on Friday at Hagerstown Community College. The members of the team are (from left to right): Coach Phil Aversa, Sarah Wycoski, Logen Wilt, Hannah Violet, T.J. Shadoan, Allison Myers, Ryan Morris, Zach Getridge and Kellen Weeks. Not pictured: Coach Wendy Strunk.
Submitted Photo

They say life is a gamble.

If that’s true, let’s just say we are all sitting at one big poker game.

The game is five-card draw.

You’re dealt an opening hand and have the option to improve it by drawing replacements.

Success and confidence are the products of strategy, instincts and risk. The more you play, the more you learn.

That might prove the idea that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Family is what we are dealt and friends are picked up out of the pile.

The path we follow comes from the strategy, instincts and risk we are willing to use to get that ultimate winning hand.

In a way, that says it all about the relationship between Kellen Weeks and Logen Wilt, teammates on the state champion Boonsboro unified bocce team. Each has his own starting hand and has drawn each other from the pile.

That happens a lot in athletics. Players come from across a town, a school, a country or a league to find ways to become a successful group.

In family, you have brothers. In sports, you have brotherhood.

These relationships become that intimate.

The brotherhood comes from working so closely with someone that you trust them like family. With one look in any situation or moment, “brothers” are automatically on the same page with a feeling that they have each other’s back.

In baseball, pitchers have catchers. In football, quarterbacks have receivers. And in basketball, scorers have their assist man.

In Boonsboro bocce, Kellen has Logen.

Kellen’s hand is one that isn’t normally dealt to an athlete. It has a wild card.

Kellen has all the cunning and savvy most athletes possess. He is smart, competitive, and when he chooses to, he talks a good game. He wants to win and has the drive to be first across the finish line.

Like most athletes, though, Kellen has one hurdle to overcome to become a champion.

He lives part of his life in a wheelchair.

Kellen Weeks has a form of cerebral palsy. The disease saps the strength of his leg muscles, which forces him to compete from a wheelchair.

His chair is modified with standers, which have dual purposes in his case. The main use is to help exercise Kellen’s legs, but as an athlete, it allows him to stand at the bocce line and compete.

Kellen gets that opportunity because of Maryland’s unified sports initiative, which is designed to give special needs athletes the opportunity to compete for their schools in varsity athletics. The unified program matches special needs athletes with able-bodied helpers in the realm of competition.

On Friday, that opportunity came at the Unified State Bocce Invitational at Hagerstown Community College, which served as the season’s state championships.

Enter Logen. Wilt plays lacrosse at Boonsboro but also participates as a helper in two unified sports — bocce and tennis.

In bocce, Logen is one of the Warriors’ leadoff players. He starts a frame by tossing the pallino scoring marker into the field of play and then fires the first scoring shot.

Then he becomes Kellen’s teammate … and brother.

As Kellen’s turn approaches, Logen turns into strategist and mathematician. While other helpers get Kellen on the court while moving him into the standing position, Logen is positioning and angling a ramp that attaches to the front of Kellen’s chair.

With the directions and coaching of Logen and other helpers, Kellen delivers his shot.

It doesn’t matter if Kellen wins or loses. He just got to play the game.

And that’s what matters to Logen.

“I want to win, but I want (Kellen and the special needs teammates) to have fun,” Logen said.

On this day, Boonsboro won.

The Warriors won the Division IV state title with their last shot in sudden death.

They had adoring fans. They received gold medals. And they got the honor of posing for a team picture.

While the group pinched together to cheese for the cameras, Kellen let out a celebratory whoop.

Kellen Weeks had his say in the victory.

More importantly, he drew the winning hand he can remember for a lifetime.

And so did his athletically adopted brother, Logen.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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