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More than 100 athletes take part in Special Olympic State Invitational Bocce Tournament

By Staff | May 2, 2010

The Special Olympic State Invitational Bocce Tournament was held in Cape Coral for the first time this weekend.
More than 100 athletes descended upon Veterans Park on Coronado Parkway to play either singles or doubles matches in Bocce Ball. The tournament opened Friday and concluded Saturday afternoon with Mayor John Sullivan ceremoniously throwing the first ball during the official opening ceremony on Saturday morning.
Sullivan, as well as the four athletes chosen to compete at the national tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska from July 18-24, each threw one of the first balls in the ceremony. Attending the nationals will be Ronnie Eldridge, Bob Staudt, Eliz Figura and Karen Dohan.
George Furlan, head coach for the team heading to nationals, said the athletes train twice a week at perfecting their Bocce.
“Most of them have been playing four to five years,” said Furlan. “They are very good athletes and the state invitational prepares them to go to other tournaments.”
He also hopes that the team going to nationals is able to attend the world competition in Greece. Besides the national team, Furlan also hosts the group attending the state level tournament.
Skinny Batista, tournament director for the Cape Coral Bocce Association, said a plaque was presented to Sullivan for showing support to the program, and the games held in Veterans Park’s six courts ended around 3 p.m.
He also said that turnout for the event was “phenomenal,” including athletes from Lee, Charlotte, Manatee, Palm Beach and Sarasota counties.
Bob Evans catered this year’s tournament, said Batista. At noon the athletes took a break from Bocce and took a plate of food provided by the restaurant.
“Bob Evans paid for everything,” said Batista.
In bocce, competitors throw a smaller ball or “pallina” and the object of the game is to roll or throw larger, colored balls as close to the “pallina” as possible.
Batista said last week that all competitors received a medal for participating in the games. More than 100 were given for first, second and third place.