On Sunday, June 3rd, a new kind of team played for the first time on the athletic fields at Oyster River High School.
The Student Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) and Best Buddies programs hosted a bubble soccer tournament as part of the first-ever Spring Carnival. Alongside the tournament, which served as a fundraiser for both of the organizations, there were backyard games, raffles, and prizes. The event ran from 12-4pm and served to draw in members from all around the community.
“I had always wanted to try bubble soccer and it seemed really fun, so I said, ‘why not!’” exclaimed Iris Yu (‘20) of her split-second decision to partake in Sunday’s tournament.
Joining Yu and her teammates were four other groups, all composed of students and teachers from around the community.
“I think events like this are important because they help us bond as a school and do fun activities together. They can also help get people closer together through interacting in an engaging game such as bubble soccer,” said Amelia Concannon (‘19), another player.
Nick Ricciardi, a SALT advisor and bubble soccer participant, also felt events such as Sunday’s are important to the community. “Bubble soccer, especially this year, was a public relations mission for both groups, especially since SALT and Best Buddies are both new to the school this year,” he said, continuing, “getting people out to see what these groups do is important for community members because it gives them a chance to interact and learn more.”
Ricciardi also noted that these elements contributed to the choosing of a bubble soccer tournament. “In the Oyster River district, we have a very high percentage of students that are also student-athletes. Historically, the most successful fundraisers have surrounded competition so we thought we would build on that with bubble soccer. It’s competitive in a way that they’re not used to, so it draws a crowd,” he said.
Best Buddies president and SALT member Joseph Morell (‘20) agreed that bubble soccer was a good medium for the fundraiser. “We had most of what we needed in the school already, so we just rented the bubbles and we were all set. To us, it seemed like a good way to do something new and fun.”
Players competed in a round-robin style tournament, with each team facing off against the others, and the bubble soccer games concluded with an awards ceremony. After a long day and many games, seniors Will Cilia, Grant Heine, Colin Tucker, and Zach Smith took home the championship, winning them medals and pizza.
“Playing in each game was really fun and bouncing people around was probably the best part. After each goal our team scored, we would ‘chest bump’ our teammates for the celebration. Winning the championship game was great and we celebrated just as hard,” said Cilia. “If I am around, I will definitely try to participate again next year.”
Building on this thought was Concannon. “I chose to sign up because it sounded like fun and a good way to bond with my friends,” she said. “Even though we didn’t win it all we still had fun.”
In addition to the fun had by all, SALT and Best Buddies members are hopeful the event will continue to raise money in the years to come. “I think everyone that came enjoyed themselves, and I hope we can keep that going. I definitely want Best Buddies and SALT to work together in the future so we can get even more participation at events,” said bubble soccer player and Best Buddies member Allison Marshall (‘19).
Morell agreed. “I think it’s great to have different students from different sectors of the school work together to achieve a common goal that ultimately helps both parties involved. We are planning on doing this again in the future, and we already have a lot of people who are interested in it for next year.”