Ocean City Today

A Mediterranean import, it’s bocce ball

Of European origin, game finds its appassionati di sport at Stephen Decatur
By Kara Hallissey | Mar 30, 2017

(March 31, 2017) The fourth season of unified bocce ball is underway at Stephen Decatur High School with eight students taking part in the competition this year.

Practices began on March 23 with the first game taking place on Monday.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, there are four players to a team. By rolling or bouncing four colored balls, the object of the game is for one or more of the four balls to be closer than all opponents’ balls to the pallina or small white target ball.

The first team to score 16 points or has the most in 30 minutes wins the game. During competitions, they play in a best out-of-three game format.

“It is similar to curling, but with bocce, the target moves,” Coach Keith Hall said. “There is a lot of luck and strategy involved. The kids have so much fun and enjoy the friendly competition.”

The team has five regular season games scheduled, which conclude with the district tournament taking place at the end of April. Stephen Decatur students will compete against teams from Worcester, Wicomico, Talbot, Somerset and Dorchester counties in Maryland during the tournament.

“The state championship is inside the football stadium at Washington College,” Hall said.

Last year, Stephen Decatur High School won a gold medal at districts and took home the bronze during the state championship.

Toni Dixon, a senior who was a part of the team last year, joined because bocce ball was created by the Italians and she loves foreign sports.

“I have met a lot of new friends. It’s a lot of fun and not too competitive,” Dixon said.

Ben Scarfi, a freshman, is Italian and enjoys bowling, which is a comparative sport.

“It was a good opportunity and I feel I was born for this game,” Scarfi said.

Bocce ball is an ancient sport, which originated in Italy and is now played anywhere from backyards or on the beach to international competitions in many countries.

“It’s a strategic sport, competitive and a skill game,” Coach Lauren Dorman said. “It is also fun to try and knock the other person’s ball. It is a cardiovascular workout, but you have to think at the same time.”

“It is not a special needs sport,” she said. “I want the family-oriented game to be bigger than it is. Teach the sport to someone else and don’t let it die.”

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