SIDNEY — Two teams in the Sidney Bocce League have reached the finals and will play for the championship Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m., on courts behind Broker’s Real Estate, 302 W. Russell Road.
The games are free and open to the public.
According to Wikipedia, bocce “is a ball sport belonging to the boules family, closely related to British bowls and French petanque, with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire.”
Teams comprise four players. The Sidney league had four teams playing this season. In the past, as many as eight teams have taken part in the games, which were played over a 10-week season.
Both teams in this year’s championship round have not made it to the finals before during the three years the league has been in existence here. They are the Broker’s Real Estate team, who defeated Klingler and Co. during semi-final play this week, and Big Hammer, who defeated Sidney Tire.
The semi-finals were played on the courtsquare, with Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst as a guest official.
Cavin Risk, of Sidney, is the capo, or captain, of the Broker’s Real Estate team. Other members are Patti Armstrong, of Newport, and Rita Thurman and Barb Huskey, both of Sidney.
Tom Bowman, of Sidney, is the capo of Big Hammer. His teammates are Abby Bowman and Judith and Warren Shepherd, all of Sidney.
Risk developed the league in 2013. He had become enamored of the game when he lived near an Italian neighborhood in Rochester, New York.
“There were bocce courts and there was a Bocce Day at school. It was a huge deal to be a part of Bocce Day,” he said.
Abby Bowman likes the game because players don’t have to be especially skilled to have a good time.
“We don’t have Olympic athletes out here,” Risk said.
“It doesn’t matter how skilled you think you are,” Bowman said. “There’s a lot of chance in it. That always makes it interesting.”
“Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts 90 feet in length and 8.2 to 13.1 feet wide,” Wikipedia says. “Bocce balls can be made of metal or various kinds of plastic. Unlike lawn bowls, bocce balls are spherical and have no inbuilt bias. A match is started by a randomly chosen side being given the opportunity to throw a smaller ball, the jack, from one end of the court into a zone 16 feet in length, ending 8.2 feet from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere they choose within the prescribed zone.
“The side that first attempted to place the jack is given the opportunity to bowl first. Once the first bowl has taken place, the other side has the opportunity to bowl. From then on, the side which does not have the ball closest to the jack has a chance to bowl, up until one side or the other has used their four balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls. The team with the closest ball to the jack is the only team that can score points in any frame. The scoring team receives one point for each of their balls that is closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team. The length of a game varies by region but is typically from 7 to 13 points.
“Players are permitted to throw the ball in the air using an underarm action. This is generally used to knock either the jack or another ball away to attain a more favorable position. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the ball to throw or roll it accurately.”
The Sidney championship will be determined by playing a best two out of three games. Before competition begins, former Sidney Mayor Frank Mariano will present awards to the third- and fourth-place teams from the semi-finals. Timmy G. will perform beginning at 5:30 p.m. A bonfire will follow the games.
What Risk likes best about the league is “the fun and fellowship,” he said.
Bowman agrees. She was attracted to participating because it provided an opportunity to meet with other community residents.
“And the camaraderie of some fun play without being too competitive,” she said.
“It sounded like a good break from work,” Tom Bowman said.
Wednesday night’s champions will win medals and bragging rights.
For information about joining or starting a team for next year’s competition, call Risk at 498-4725.