Jess is 24 and has cerebral palsy. She is a wheelchair user who has no natural speech and she communicates using a communication aid or by ‘head spelling'.
Jess plays Boccia in class BC3, which allows for use of a ramp and ramp assistant. The player instructs the assistant on the positioning of the ramp for the delivery of each ball. Jess has a number of Boccia achievements, including being crowned English national individual champion 2011 and winning sixth place in the pairs BC3 in the Belfast 2011 World Cup. Following this in 2012, she won gold at the London Boccia Invitational Test in the Pairs Event, and was awarded the title of Senior Disability Sportsperson of the Year at the East Hamsphire Sports Awards. She is still enjoying fantastic achievements as a current member of the ‘GB Boccia World Class Programme’, and has recently played in the Boccia England Cup Finals 2016.
We asked Jess about her Boccia career so far:
When did you first start playing Boccia?
Sandra King was PE teacher at Treloar’s and I started playing in her lessons.
What do you like about Boccia?
Mainly, I like it because I can do it and it's a sport within my range of control. Now the best thing about it is playing against world-class players.
What do you do for training?
I do a lot of laying up to the jack and then knocking the ball off the jack. I do this every session and then add on other skills.
Do you enjoy playing pairs?
Yes, although I want to do more individual matches. There is a lot of pressure when you are in a pair because if you make a mistake, you affect your partner and there is less chance to recover than in a team.
Did you feel you that you had plenty of support from Treloar's?
Yes, if it wasn't for Treloar's I wouldn't have been in the Paralympics because before I started playing, I didn't even know what it was. My dad went with me to my first regional event and he hadn't a clue what was going on.
What has been your best Boccia moment so far?
Well there were three moments really. One was winning gold in the test match in May, and another was when I got the letter saying I had been chosen for the GB 2012 team.
I was also pretty pleased when I beat Ce Turk. I'd played her before and she always beat me, but then I beat her and took the national title.
Do you have any Boccia idols?
I would have to say the Irish player Johnny Cronin. He plays BC3 and he is amazing because he has a lot of [involuntary] movement but he still manages to put the ball on the jack