Bocce team ready to roll in Special Olympics BC Summer Games

Seven bocce athletes will represent Greater Trail at the SOBC Summer Games next month.

In the upcoming weeks, the Trail Times will feature the Special Olympic-Trail athletes competing in the Special Olympic BC Summer Games, which includes participants from golf, bowling, bocce, and swimming.

The West Kootenay Bocce Team will roll out a heavy complement of Trail athletes when it competes at the SOBC Summer Games in Kamloops next month. Five players, Lou Mazzei, Sherry Altrogge, Maria Veltri, Paula Prough, and Neil Emery, and coaches, Linda and Alan Prough, will represent Trail, with three players from Nakusp and Grand Forks rounding out the squad of eight players (two four-man teams) heading to Kamloops.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Trail native Lou Mazzei. “I do a lot of things with Special O, and I really like it. I’m having lots of fun.”

For Mazzei, the Bocce team captain, just competing is a highlight for him and attributes much of the enjoyment to the team’s coaching.

“We have a lot of good coaches, but I’ve never met anyone like Al, he’s a great guy. And going with a team is good, a lot of people you know, and being a captain is just a great feeling.”

The team meets every Monday at the Trail Bocce Facility but practices on the grass in the park below to replicate the grass playing-surface they’ll be competing on in Kamloops.

In total, 15 athletes from Greater Trail will join 95 Region 1 Kootenay athletes attending the Games, including Greater Trail’s Sheila Hawton who is the Kootenay Region’s Chef de Mission.

“It’s huge 1,600 athletes is what they’re expecting, so about 2,500 of us altogether, by the time you have coaches and support staff,” said Hawton.

The Games take over a year to organize, and while competition is the focus, an important element is connecting with other athletes and developing camaraderie and friendships.

“Most of the athletes from the East and West Kootenay, because we do a lot of tournaments here, bowling and bocce, swimming, and several other tournaments, so they know each other so it doesn’t matter what team you’re on as long as they get to go, that’s the big thing,” added Hawton.

The bocce team will travel to Oliver for a tournament this weekend for a warm-up for the Games July 6-8. The Trail athletes are excited about the upcoming competitions and looking forward to the event of the summer in Kamloops.

“I’m loving it, and it’s a great feeling, I’ve never had so much fun in my life and I’m really looking forward to it,” added Mazzei.