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Denver teen breaks barriers at international bocce ball competition

First U.S. Latino at tournament in Monaco
Jose Serna
Posted at 8:30 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 23:06:41-05

DENVER — A couple months after Jose Serna picked up a bocce ball for the first time, he picked up a top-5 finish at an international competition.

The Strive Prep SMART High School junior entered the 2021 Challenge International Denis Ravera tournament in Monaco as the first-ever U.S. Latino to compete and left with a fourth-place finish in the "precision throw" event.

"It was kind of difficult, just the thought of playing with people that...[have] years of experience," said Jose from his school's soccer field. "But like, I know I deserve to be there. I put the work in."

One of his teachers, Luciano Vergara, was a professional bocce ball player in Chile and has showed Jose the sport over the past year. When Jose qualified for the competition in Monaco, the school volunteered to cover the costs of his travel.

Now, thanks to his underdog success, Jose has qualified for the World Cup, which will take place later this year. The school is also now building a bocce ball court so future students can learn the sport.

In the above video, you can learn about Jose's unlikely rise to success in a brand new sport and the adversity he had to overcome to succeed on an international level.