Sherwood’s Corollary Sports Offer More Accessibility and Community

Sophomore captain Colin Laich tosses bocce in a match vs. Watkins Mill

by Katie Gough ‘23

Most MCPS schools including Sherwood offer three interscholastic corollary sports: handball in the fall, bocce in the winter, and applied softball in the spring. Each is a co-ed varsity sport that ranges from around 12-20 players and offers the same competitive schedule as other MCPS sports, with playoffs and a championship game towards the end of the season.

The function of these programs is to make athletics more accessible to students of all ability levels. Because these sports do not receive as much community attention as other Sherwood varsity teams, it is a common misconception that the corollary sports are only for disabled and special-ed students. In reality, students of all abilities choose corollary sports because they are less demanding and more inclusive than other MCPS sports. Especially at schools like Sherwood, it can be very difficult for students to make their first-choice sports team.

“What I tell all my students is that, due to the caliber of athletes at Sherwood high school, they could be starting varsity athletes at other schools and not even make our JV team,” said special educator Katie Ross, who has been coaching all three teams at Sherwood for the past fifteen years. “The whole point of this is to increase athletic participation. My team ends up being kids that typically have jobs, are in the play, are in Rock ‘n’ Roll and want to do more than one thing so they get to have a three to four day a week commitment instead of a six day a week commitment and still get a varsity letter.”

While some students do all three, many students choose one or two corollary sports a year. Fall handball is the most fast-paced and competitive sport of the three, while bocce is the most easily accessible to all players, including students in wheelchairs and non-verbal students. Allied softball falls somewhere in the middle.

Founded in 2011 by former MCPS athletics director and Olney local Duke Beattie, the corollary sports program has been helping students of all ability levels find an athletic community for over a decade. Because the point is to make athletic participation available to everyone, students cannot join the teams once they have played on a non-corollary MCPS varsity team. Other than that, the corollary sports have the same requirements for grades, age, and physical forms as any other sport.

Across her years coaching, Ross has found that watching friendship and maturity develop among her players has been an extremely rewarding experience. “These kids come in trying to find themselves and find a place to belong which is the same as any other sport or team and by the end they’re like family,” said Ross “Even when kids leave and make other sports, they come back and manage for me or help in other capacities.”

The corollary sports have created tight-knit groups of athletes that stay in touch even after they graduate. “My corollary sports crew still goes out to dinners together, still does outings,” said Ross. “I just got married and some of them came to my wedding.”
The strength of the Sherwood corollaries is not only reflected by its community bond, but its performance in competitions. “We’re good,” said Ross” If you look at our banners in the gym you can see we have several division championships, state championships for bocce, and we’re reigning county champions for co-ed softball.”

It will be exciting to track the allied softball team’s performance this Spring. Next year, MCPS will change the Fall corollary sport from handball to either pickleball, allied tennis, or floor hockey.