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Bocce Ball is gaining in popularity

Not just for senior citizens anymore
By: Andrew Hazard, Placer Herald Correspondent
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As the weather starts to clear up and schools close for the summer, many people may be looking for a new hobby to pass the time. A sport gaining in popularity is bocce ball, a game that has been a fixture in the senior citizen community for years. Paul MacGarvui, a resident of Sun City Lincoln Hills, is a member of a bocce group known as the Mad Hatters. At 64, he is one of the youngest members of the club. “We have 12 bocce courts here and they get pretty good usage,” MacGarvui said. The Sun City development in Roseville has a smaller set of bocce courts, he added. MacGarvui said older people enjoy the game because it is a relatively simple sport to play. The only real physical limitation to the game, he explained, is the necessity of bending over to pick up the balls. “We occasionally lose a player or two because they have bad backs or something like that,” MacGarvui said. As long as you have a set of bocce balls, he continued, you could pretty much play the game anywhere. “Formal bocce courts have concrete or wood or rubber walls that keep the ball in bounds,” he said “But there’s no reason that you can’t play bocce on a lawn.” MacGarvui pointed out that the primary need is a flat surface. “Hypothetically, you could play bocce in a parking lot,” MacGarvui said. “It would be kind of rough on the balls because most balls are made up of a plastic material but you can be creative.” Chris Meyer, Community Services Program Assistant for the city of Rocklin, said there are no official bocce clubs in the city, but that doesn’t mean one couldn’t be developed. “Johnson-Springview Park and Whitney Park are both probably locations that could handle it. They’re located around neighborhoods and have plenty of area to do so,” Meyer said. “We don’t have anything setup, but we sure have enough parks here in Rocklin.” Meyer said it would be easy to start a bocce club. “If we get enough phone calls, or emails of interest, then the sports department would look into what type of instructors are available, what the prices would be for them to come in and how much it would cost to run the clubs,” he said. “We would have to certify where the locations would be and begin the process of starting up the clubs from there. We’re always looking for new things to try to keep everybody healthy and active in our community.” MacGarvui said he started playing bocce five years ago when he moved to Sun City. “A lot of Bay Area folks have moved up here to Sun City,” MacGarvui said. “The interest in bocce probably followed them.” He also believes bocce ball is a game suited for all ages. “The companionship with the other people is the most fun,” he said. “Just getting together with friends is the best part of it.”