Spencer Cotie is 16 years old and is a year 11 student at Killarney Heights High School. Spencer says that, like most of his peers, he is a ‘a die hard sports fan’ but he never thought he’d ‘get the opportunity to play any competitive sports.’ That is, until he discovered Boccia.
Spencer has cerebral palsy and has defied doctors that told his family he would never walk, talk or keep up with his peers and classmates. In his own words, ‘I acknowledge that my disability might make challenges in life tougher but I am determined not to let them limit the things I know I’m capable of, no matter what people say.’ Alongside being an avid sportsman, Spencer can also happily boast about his excellent academic results as he regularly tops his mainstream school classes.
Boccia is a modified version of bowls or petanque that was developed for people with cerebral palsy but which is now played by people with a range of disabilities. Boccia Australia explains that ‘all athletes are required to be seated when releasing the ball, and most play from a wheelchair. Athletes can throw, kick or even use a ramp (and a ramp assistant that you get to boss around) to get the ball where you want it to go.’ For a better demonstration of the sport, you can see Spencer competing at a 2014 Hong Kong invitational in which he was a member of the Australian pair that won a silver medal. Spencer also recently represented Australia at a world open in Dubai where he came 4th in the pairs and narrowly missed out on the finals.
Since being introduced to Boccia six years ago, Spencer has become a successful national sport man with victories in both junior and senior categories and his team most recently won gold in the pairs category at the 2016 National Titles. Not content with just being a national champion, Spencer has the drive to be an international champion and has set his sights on training for the Paralympics.
To pursue his dream of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Spencer needs the right professional equipment, as well as ongoing coaching. To qualify for the Paralympics Spencer must have a world ranking of at least 20 and compete in a minimum of 2 international competitions. Unfortunately, as he is still under 18, Spencer is not eligible for full funding by the Australian Paralympic Committee and he must raise a lot of money to cover travel costs for both himself and his ramp assistant to attend international competitions.
Ever the bright spark, Spencer used his own initiative to start a Gofundme campaign to help raise the vital $15000 he needs annually to continue his training for the international event. Fighting Chance is proud to have Spencer as a member of our community and is contributing $500 to his campaign. We believe that Spencer’s combination of drive and determination will help him achieve any goals he sets his mind to – and we can’t wait to cheer him on when he’s competing for gold in 2020!
To support Spencer’s international sporting dreams, donate to his Gofundme campaign here.