2018-04-16 / Spotlight News

New champions or not, bocce league players let the good times roll

By Ann Marina and Kathy O’Flinn


Finalists in the Southwest Florida Bocce League, Worthington and The Quarry. Worthington (in white shirts) won the championship. Finalists in the Southwest Florida Bocce League, Worthington and The Quarry. Worthington (in white shirts) won the championship. The panoramic view lakeside did not distract the crowd at Vasari’s bocce courts on April 6. Attention was focused on the center court battle for the Southwest Florida Bocce League Championship.

A respectful hush was broken only by applause when a red or green ball brushed up to and stopped near the pallino (target). Players bowled with finesse, often inching out competitors by a small margin.

In the morning, the winning divisional teams from Sterling Oaks, Worthington, Lighthouse Bay, and The Quarry competed to enter the afternoon championship. Worthington and The Quarry rose to the top and, with the best of three 12-point games, Worthington won the title.

The Bocce League consists of 24 residential communities that play for 12 weeks each season. It was started in 2007 by Neil Albert of Bonita Bay and Tom Betts of Pelican Landing. There were eight teams competing that year.


Bob DiTommaso of the Worthington team, and last year’s individual champion, helped secure the victory for his team this year. Bob DiTommaso of the Worthington team, and last year’s individual champion, helped secure the victory for his team this year. “We’ve now reached our maximum of 24 teams,” said Victoria Maione, president of the bocce league. “Communities interested in joining can apply to get on the waiting list.”

The goal in bocce is to get as many of your team’s balls as close to the pallino (the smaller target ball) as possible. When all balls have been thrown, the team with the closest ball gets one point for each of its balls that are closer than the other team’s closest ball.

Bocce’s history is rooted in ancient Egypt, as evidenced by drawings of figures tossing a ball or stone toward a fixed target. Some images were recorded as early as 5200 B.C. The game made its way to Greece and then to Rome, where it was called bocce.


The Quarry team (in striped shirts) made it to the finals but was outscored by Worthington. The Quarry team (in striped shirts) made it to the finals but was outscored by Worthington. Its popularity among Italian immigrants helped the game flourish in the United States. Next to soccer and golf, bocce is the third most popular sport in the world, according to the U.S. Bocce Federation.

“In 1996 we had eight people playing at Bonita Bay, and now it’s 614,” Albert said. “It’s fun to hone our skills and make new friends who also love the game.”

Many Southwest Florida communities have bocce courts. The game is also played on beach sand or closely cropped lawns.

Neil Albert’s first games were on the grass in Minneapolis in the 1990s. “When you play on the ground the ball might get on a hill or roll behind a tree,” he said. “On a court, your aim can be more accurate.”

League members have found camaraderie and enjoyment to be more important than winning. In her letters and email communications, Maione always closes with her favorite phrase, “Let’s keep rolling in friendship and fun.”

For more information about the Southwest Florida Bocce League, contact Victoria Maione at vima413@aol.com.

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