Capri Connection: March Madness marks bocce finale

Ann Hall

This year marks its 12th year of play in which residents of Marco Towers, La Peninsula, Twin Dolphins, Tarpon Village, Driftwood Landing condos and residential homes on the four isles that make up Capri come together in an organized league. The games grow more exciting every year.

Six years ago, the number of teams and players had grown so large that the league had to be divided into two divisions (A) and (B). The 2017 Capri Bocce League had a total of 16 teams with four players on a team. At the end of this year’s seven weeks of play, the Bob Cats (Captain Sam and Marsha Pankhurst, and Bob and Donna Crum) earned first place in Division A, and the Tarpons (Captain Marsha and Bill Sexton, and Mike and Maude Chater) came in first in Division B.

To give the 16 teams a chance to play against one another, the March Madness Single Elimination Tournament was also instituted six years ago. At the end of the regular season, all 16 teams were entered into the Tourney. Team pairing games extended over four consecutive days until there were two remaining teams to play one another.

The Beach Bums won the final single elimination playoff for the second consecutive year and walked away with crowns, gift certificates for each player and a traveling trophy for their accomplishment at the closing banquet ceremony.  Their team name and the names of each player were added to the progressive March Madness Winner’s Plaque that hangs in the Capri Community Center. There was an element of anxiety for a while, as the team was unable to locate the traveling trophy. Both the Cox’s and the Taylors had moved recently and there was a frantic search through packed boxes to locate it. The teams winning the most games in each of their respective divisions were recognized at the closing ceremony with star-studded medallions and gift certificates for each player.

At the closing ceremonies on Friday, March 3, League Chair Eddie Hall paid tribute to the Bocce Board of Directors, and all who had helped to make the season such a success.   Hall recognized his wife, who served as League Secretary and Scheduler, Darla Goetzelman, statistician, Gary Goetzelman, Treasurer and Banquet Committee: Connie and George Taylor, Michele Lepage, Rene Clement, Carol Pagels, Mike and Marietta Cox.  He also recognized each of the 16 team captains, their players and substitute players for their sportsmanship and making this league’s season so exciting.

After dining on steamed shrimp, smoked salmon, a variety of meats and cheeses, side dishes, salads and garnishes, and of course, the traditional succulent special-ordered annual bocce cake, Hall shared some of the funny stories from the players that had been recorded throughout the season. The room filled with laughter as he read them.  He invited the members of the newest team, the Stone Crabs to share a cheer they had mastered during the season. They raised their hands and with their fingers formed pinchers that snapped for a silent crab-like applause.  This brought a roar of laughter from the room of 80 plus attendees.

Mike Cox served as master of ceremonies and had the attendees in waves of laughter as he pretended to have been reading from “official plans” that were submitted to the County for improvements to the Bocce Court that got “turned down.”  His list included having a roof put over the court to keep sun and rain at bay, installing restrooms and water fountains, and giving permission to have the Capri Bocce League engage in international play in Italy and other countries who also love the game. Although no international games are anticipated, Peter Pareene from the Marco Island Bocce League has extended an invitation for having the two leagues work out a way of some of the players playing one another at Mackle Park.  This offer is being extended for post-season play on an “at will, interest base” for the current time until more formal planning can take place.

“We synch our bocce balls and have them talk to one another and to the pallino by tapping them together before each game,” said Paul Rhoads a player on the winning March Madness team, Beach Bums. “This must be a sure fire tactic,” said Hall, “because your team won March Madness last year too.

“Bearing any unusual circumstances, we will be back next year and ready to take on a new challenge,” said the team captains. “There are already new comers calling to sign up to play or to form new teams for next season,” said Hall.

“We are also grateful to Barry Williams, director of Collier County Parks and Recreation for his wonderful support,” Hall said.  “He sends his staff out to monitor the condition of the court, trim trees that hang over the court, and make sure that there are sufficient benches available for participants and spectators,” said Hall. Capri Park is probably the smallest park in the County (only one residential lot), but it is one of the most used for sure. The only amenities are a small play area for early elementary school children and a bocce court for the adults.”

Bocce has been a wonderful unifying recreational activity for the community, and is cited as being one of the most fun activities on Capri. Currently there are about 80 plus participants in the league as regular players or substitutes.

“The league always welcomes new players,” said Hall in his closing remarks. “This season has been so much fun; I hate to see it end,” said many of the players. “Can we have a summer league?” asked Liz Lombardi and others as well.

Contact Ann Hall at