One of America’s biggest Bocce Ball tournaments is coming to Dayton, and it is all about respect, capeesh? Respect the balls, the court, the tradition and a game where anyone can play and be competitive. The Food Adventures Crew will be a big part of this weekend which also includes a Friday food truck rally and Sunday’s Garlic Fest.
The John Pirelli Lodge/Sons of Italy will be hosting the 2016 Bocce Classic from July 15th – July 17th this year, and they are looking for players! This annual event draws young and old from many states. Even players from Canada drive down to attend, and you can participate too !
Teams of 4 will descend upon the bocce courts behind the Bella Villa Hall and will be rolling balls from morning ’til night. Some of you may know this site as the same spot of Dayton’s Italian Festival aka the “Fall Festa.” 2015 Bocce Classic Champions, The Doepker Family and Scott Davis look to defend their title, in what promises to be a fun-filled tournament weekend.
Not sure how to play bocce ball? It is easy to start. It is a mixture of bowling and shuffleboard. The object of the game is to roll your four bocce balls as close to the little “pallino” ball as possible, while preventing your opponents from doing the same. It is that simple. Many players develop their own strategies and rolling styles. Want to learn the rules of Bocce ? Then click here for the Dayton’s Bocce Classic Rules Page.
Want to know more about The Bocce Classic, one of the feature Bocce Ball Tournaments in the United States?
HERE IS THE SKINNY:
WHAT: THE BOCCE CLASSIC, a BOCCE BALL TOURNAMENT
WHERE: 2625 County Line Rd, Dayton, Ohio
WHEN: 3 day tournament starts evening of July 15th, and ends in the Championship Game, Sunday Evening July 17th
COST: $270 per team, includes a steak dinner Saturday night, beer cups, and discounted drink prices during Sons of Italy’s Food Truck Rally July 15th and Garlic Fest, July 17th. Sounds like a Food Adventure, so The Big Ragu, Chef House and Hungry Jax will be there.
WHY: A significant portion of the proceeds go to local scholarships and local charities
They are expecting about 60-70 teams of four to participate in this year’s event. There is even a BEGINNER BOCCE BASH Friday night hosted by UpDayton, 5pm-9pm.
HISTORY OF BOCCE BALL IN DAYTON:
Thirty years ago the Bella Villa Hall had 2 bocce courts. The floors of the courts were sand and limestone dust. They would have to bring out a rug and a rope, and drag it up and down to smooth the court between matches. Now the courts are made from artificial turf.
Then in 1995, the John Pirelli Lodge in Dayton Ohio, decided to host a tournament to promote the game and their Italian heritage. There were five clay courts and 40 teams. Orignal Bocce Classic Founders Ed Guerriero, Pat Mosconi and Mike Longo grew the tournament and it is now the unofficial “Ohio State Championship of Bocce”
Now, The Bocce Classic is a 3 day event played with over 60 teams and attended by thousands of spectators. There are now six partially covered bocce courts that even have night lighting. The Italian lodge looks to keep the feel of the original tournament while introducing bocce ball to more people in the Miami Valley. Pasta, steak dinners, and authentic Italian food help make a great bocce tournament.
2016 may be the “Year of the Bocce Ball” in Dayton, with all of this added interest. But for some, it has been a tradition for decades. Let’s meet some of Dayton’s bocce legends and purists.
DAYTON’S BOCCE’S “MUST MEETS”
— EDDIE “BOOM BOOM” GUERRIERO: This mild-mannered fixture at the Sons of Italy love the bocce and food as well. One of the founding members of the tournament, he is still active in bocce and lodge committees. We don’t know why he is called “boom boom.” We will leave that up to your imagination.
— RINALDO STOLFO: This active 86 year old has played in the bocce league for 10 years and is an avid ping pong player with his partner who, get this… is 94 years old. He likes bocce because you meet a lot of new friends. Many of you Rinaldo as the former owner of his famous Dayton bakery which he retired last year.
— JIM BALSAMO: Current President of the lodge and bocce enthusiast who tells us his father got him into the game. Jim loves bocce ball because anyone can play, “16 years old to 86, male, female, it doesn’t matter.” Jim also says just because you have experience, sometimes is doesn’t matter. Games can take twists and turns. Jim says “One minute you think you’ve got it figured out and the bocce gods look down on you and that’s all she wrote.” Jim also notes that sometimes you gotta teach the players to add the scores correctly, even the veterans forget.
— BRIAN ANDZIK: Bocce League veteran who has not missed one game in 17 years. He even played a season on crutches. Now that’s dedication, folks. Brian has also been a leader on the lodge council. He got to play on one of the original teams with the legendary DiPasquale brothers.
— TONY CICERO: From Racine, Wisconsin has played bocce his whole life. Tony has won bocce classic twice. He says playing helps, as he grew up with a bocce court in back yard. It is a game of strategy. A feel comes naturally, he says.. Tony’s wife plays in the women’s league and was the MVP of her team.
— NICK D’AMICO: Nick has been helping out with the Special Olympics Bocce Ball for 20 years. Last year they had 78 athletes
with special needs play bocce ball in the Olympics. Nick has been playing bocce ball all of his life. He remembers playing in alleys as a kid on Stone Mill Road.
— THURSDAY is WOMENS LEAGUE at the John Pirelli Lodge – and we will have a full report on them, soon !
So now you know a little more about Dayton area bocce and its tradition. Come out and watch the Bocce Classic , or enter the tournament. They would love to have you.
Want to join the Italian Club? You must have Italian lineage in your family, and the cost is $40 per year. Club members are eligible to play in a bocce league that costs $40 a year.