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This year marks its 10th year of play that residents of Marco Towers, La Peninsula, Twin Dolphins, Tarpon Village, Driftwood Landing condos and all residential homes on the Isles of Capri played bocce together in an organized league. The games grow more exciting every year.

Four 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) with eight teams in each. At the end of this year's nine weeks of play, the Sailfish earned first place in Division A, and the Magnificent Frigates came in first in Division B, marking their second consecutive win.

To give the 16 teams a chance to play against one another, the March Madness Single Elimination Tournament began four years ago. At the end of the regular season, the four top-scoring teams in each division would play one another in a series of single-elimination games until one team remained the champ. This year, instead of only top-scoring teams being included, all 16 teams were entered into the March Madness Tourney. Team pairings were drawn from a hat, and the games extended over four days.

The Bobcats won the final playoff and walked away with crowns, movie tickets and a traveling trophy for their accomplishment. The teams winning for their division received gift certificates from the Island Gypsy Cafe and Marina Bar on the island.

At the closing ceremonies, league co-chair Eddie Hall paid tribute to the bocce board of directors, and all who had helped to make the season a success. Hall recognized his co-chair and score statistician, Gene Brady, and his consultant, Kay Brady; treasurer Gary Goetzelman; banquet chair Darla Goetzelman; court maintenance managers George and Connie Taylor, and each of the 16 team captains, their players and substitute players.

After dining on steamed shrimp, smoked salmon (flown in from Wisconsin, especially for the occasion), a variety of meats and cheeses, salads and garnishes, and, of course, the traditional succulent special-ordered annual bocce cake, Hall shared some of the funny quotes from the players that had been recorded throughout the season. The room filled with laughter as he read them. He made a special point of noting that most often when a player called out something to his team, he or she would repeat it. Examples cited were: "Red throws; red throws;" "Blue's closer; blue's closer."

"I guess because of the age of some players, most must have assumed that all had a hearing deficit," Hall said.

It was even more humorous to hear some of the ways in which players talked to the balls after they had been tossed into play.

"Whoa, whoa, don't give me any of that left-turn business," shouted Dave Moenkhaus when his ball didn't go where he wanted.

"Get legs, get legs," was a common demand made when the ball did not travel the intended distance.

"Rail baby, rail baby," was heard when a player wanted the ball to hug the side of the court, and if a ball sped between two balls without stopping, "field goal" was a common shout.

Some considered the next quotes most hilarious.

"I called the pallino the piƱata until almost the end of the season," confessed one new player.

"If we can't beat them, kill them," said Connie Taylor when accidentally hitting the feet of players on the court while kicking the balls back to the starting line.

The crowd roared hardest of all when Hall mentioned the names of the most vocal players who assumed the role of cheerleaders during the tourney, and Darla Goetzelman surprised the group with poms poms and a megaphone to share. The laughter elevated even higher when it was announced that this year's tourney set a record for the most plays measured.

"I don't know guys, I'd measure it just to be sure," said Irene Romano on numerous occasions, as did many of her fellow league players.

Team captains report that they will be back next year and ready to take on a new challenge. 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 84 participants in the league, and the league always welcomes new players.

"This season has been so much fun; I hate to see it end," said Gladys Fitzsimmons a player on the Cats team.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconuttele.net

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