Bocce: Event brings special result

Eighty competitors signed up for the two-day event, the most Colombo organizer Pat Zanier has seen since its inception.

It was a full card at the Trail Curling Facility on the weekend as the Colombo Lodge’s 10th annual AM Ford Bocce Classic hosted a record lineup of boccini rollers including four teams from Special Olympics-Trail.

Eighty competitors signed up for the two-day event, the most Colombo organizer Pat Zanier has seen since its inception.

“We had 40 teams, so that’s pretty well maxed out,” said Zanier. “That’s 10 more teams than last year.”

This year’s event ran over two days, on four bocce pitches with a growing and enthusiastic following.

“Over the years people have been popping into the curling rink during Silver City Days and watching a bit, and saying, ‘Oh I’d like to do that,’” said Zanier. “I think it’s finally coming about where people are showing some interest, and the ones that show up have a good time and want to keep coming back. It’s all about just having fun. ”

In the A event Bruno DeRosa and Leo Ganzini took home top spot, while Ladies A event winners were Barb Secco and Irene Aiken. Tom Hall and Joanne Drysten claimed the B event title, while the C event went to Michelle March and Liz Bertuzzi.

Yet, even more significant was the great showing of four Special Olympic Trail bocce teams that have been training for the B.C.S.O. Summer Games.

“I was impressed, they had some really good games, and even the games they lost, they didn’t lose by much,” said Zanier.

The pairing of Tim McTeer and Maria Veltri was almost unstoppable winning three matches on their way to a third-place finish. It was the first time the Special Olympians participated in the Colombo-AM Ford bocce tournament and their fine showing didn’t surprise Zanier or other  veteran Colombo bocce masters.

“They practice up at the (bocce) pits all the time, and they come actually to the Colombo Lodge and use our pit in the winter time downstairs,” said Zanier. “So they know what they’re doing, and we saw it, they are pretty good.”

In another match, the Special O team of Kayleigh Postmus and Sherry Altrogge made an incredible comeback. Down 15-11, Postmus and Altrogge made a series of great shots to overcome the deficit in a 16-15 victory.

“All the other games were done, and the next group of games couldn’t start because this one was on,” said Special Olympic coordinator Ben Postmus. “Everybody in the curling rink was watching this game so when the girls won it, the whole place just erupted.”

While it may seem a small thing to participate in such an event, Postmus asserts that for the SOBC athletes to be included in the tournament is ground-breaking in its own right.

“You guys (the Colombo Lodge) have done a huge thing in the community,” said Postmus. “People are going to be talking about this for a long time, because it’s not typical for the Special Olympic guys to be included in something like this. There’s not many communities in B.C. where they would be included.”

The Colombo organizers didn’t hesitate to welcome the contingent to the event and the competitors were suitably  impressed with the eight Special Olympic bocce players, which included McTeer, Veltri, Postmus, Altrogge, Jake Miller, Bob Lattanzio, Fred Crerar, and Neil Emery, who were also excited to be part of the tournament.

“They were thrilled, they were having a blast,” said Zanier. “And I told them you guys got to come back because there are prizes, and they’re like, ‘We get a prize too?’ But as Ben says, ‘Their prize was just getting to play’ . . . It’s all about breaking down those barriers.”

The event proved a positive and genuinely enjoyable experience not just for the Special O teams but for all participants, organizers, and supporters.

Postmus is looking forward to next year already and sees this small step as a  giant leap forward for Greater Trail Special Olympic athletes.

“In the end everyone wins.”

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