BOCCE LESSONS

By Ken Martin



EVERYONE’S GAME: On a recent Saturday, the Buon Tempo Italian-American Club hosted a “Free Bocce Lessons” session at the new bocce courts at Adobe Art Center Park. The purpose was two-fold: To make the community aware of the Buon Tempo Club’s existence and to promote the presence of the courts and the game of bocce in the community.


My co-instructor, Buon Tempo Board member Al Bronzini, and I arrived on a windy, gloomy day and were soon joined by a half-dozen seasoned players. We started a game and, as first time players arrived (ultimately about 15 of them), we substituted them for the experienced players, explaining the game and the rules to them as we made the changes. Soon we had a game solely of neophytes. We were happily amazed at how well these new people played. They made some shots that made us long-time players envious!!


Soon a gentleman arrived with two teenage sons. He said they just stopped to watch on their way to the ball game. I told him they were welcome to give it a try, a suggestion that the boys quickly accepted. We soon discovered that both of the boys were victims of cerebral palsy and one required braces to even be able to walk. But they took to the court with enthusiasm. And they played bocce as well as anyone! I can’t tell you how good it made us feel to see them discover an activity in which they had no limitations and to watch their glee as they scored points. It made the whole day worthwhile!!


One young lady who professed to have never played before, after playing part way through a game, declared several times, “I love this game!” We could see that others were equally “hooked”. What was really fun for Al and I was watching the looks of concern as the new players stepped onto the court for the first time, looks that turned to smiles when they discovered how well they could play. We had accomplished our goal for the day, that of acquainting people with the great game of bocce!


Bocce is a very simple game with a minimum of rules. Basically, the object is to roll the big ball (bocce) as close as possible to the little ball (pallino), and to get your ball closer than the opponents’ balls.  Anyone can play and play well. I have watched players that used walkers, canes, and even a wheelchair play competitively. Bocce is a game for everyone – young, old, male, female, firm or infirm.


If you think you want to give it a try, let me know by e-mail at martinken@juno.com  and we’ll get together. I hope to see you at the courts.


Note: The Adobe courts are public courts and are available to anyone. Players have to furnish their own balls. Bocce sets can be purchased at department and sporting goods stores or on line. Be sure to read the label. Good balls should be 107 to 114 millimeters in diameter.