Bocce returns for third season at Avonworth

The 2019 Bocce Team: front row: Grace Connelly, Erin Zdrojowy, Katie Conway, Caitie Bellotti, Meghan Kantenwein, Campbell McCann, Adelina Otstot, Kathryn Conklin;back row: Jason Mulligan, Grant Jenkins, Derek Johncour, Brady Neidhardt, Kyle Bowen, Alec Kreutzer. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

From Egypt to Greece to Italy to Avonworth, the game of bocce has been around, in one form for another, for at least 7,000 years. Pronounced “baw-chee,” the game requires no elaborate fields, expensive equipment or uniforms. Instead, good judgment skills, patience and team spirit rule the day, as seen when the Avonworth ‘Lopes and the Montour Spartans bocce teams faced off in the Avonworth gym this past Tuesday.

Now in their third year, Avonworth fields two co-ed teams, 14 members in all, from grades 9-12.

And while bocce matches don’t quite measure up to football, basketball or other “big-time” sports, there are some similarities, with six schools in addition to Avonworth and Montour in this year’s competition: Hampton, Moon, Baldwin, Elizabeth Forward, Fox Chapel, and Carlynton.

In brief, the strategy requires team members to roll their bocce balls (larger balls) close to the pallina (smaller ball) to score points. The team closer to the pallina gets points per frame.
The gym had a few hundred spectators, with cheerleaders in uniform leading familiar cheers. There also were banners on the walls, a refreshment stand and team shirts.

Montour dominated the match, but the most important goal of the day was reached: everyone having a good time, as fans cheered for strategic moves made by both teams.

Asked who assisted her with the match-up, Coach Tiffany White singled out the Special Olympics Club members, and named administrators, teachers and students, summing it up with “Too many to name!”