US Bocce Team athlete Tiaunta Gray earned the top honor while representing her country during the 2015 Special Olympics, which were held in Los Angeles.
Tiaunta, who attends Compton Unified School District’s (CUSD) Exceptional Adult Center and is also a student worker in Walton Middle School's cafeteria, competed against countries from all over the world to win a gold medal in team bocce, silver in the doubles event, and a fourth place ribbon in the singles event.
“It’s just really exciting,” she said. "I want to compete and have fun. Winning medals is cool too," she said while showing off her new silverware. "It means a lot. Everyone is proud of me."
Brian Jacobson, assistant coach for the US Bocce Team, praised Tiaunta’s competitive spirit.
“She’s a very good, very coachable athlete. I can give her suggestions and she’ll try them. She’s not stubborn. She doesn’t say she’ll do it her way. That helps the team a lot,” he said. Jacobson added, “Ultimately we all try our best and if you win a medal, that’s a bonus.”
Prior to joining the US team Tiaunta impressed as part of Compton Unified’s Exceptional Adult Center’s bocce team, which has won several titles under the leadership of coach Joanne Abate.
For Joanne, Tiaunta’s athletic accomplishments are a huge source of pride.
"Tiaunta has strengthened her bocce skills and has increased her self-esteem tremendously. She has learned how to be a valued team member and has gained great confidence. She has reached the ultimate goal by participating in the 2015 World Games and taking the gold in bocce."