The old-world game of bocce ball has been around since early Egyptian times and was brought to America in the early 1900s by immigrants from northern Italy. But it was not until 20 years ago this month that the game, formerly associated with male players only, began to take root and eventually flourish in the PebbleCreek sports culture, due ironically to two dynamic women.
It was spring 1998 when PC snowbird Priscilla Naworski walked into the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse and noticed an architectural rendering for a new park in the community.
“It showed plans to build four horseshoe pits and four shuffleboard courts,” Priscilla recalls. “I immediately marched into the manager’s office and proposed that they replace the shuffleboard pits with bocce ball courts.”
Priscilla was well aware of how popular the sport was becoming in active adult communities across America since it swept her home state of California in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, her husband Joe was not too optimistic anyone was listening to his wife’s suggestion.
“I found some specs for building a bocce court and handed them over to management. The reaction was positive but not all that enthusiastic,” Joe remembers.
Shortly thereafter, the Naworski’s left PebbleCreek for their summer sojourn in California. When they returned in fall 1998, a beautiful park stretched luscious and green along Robson Circle and right smack in the middle, much to the Naworkski’s surprise, were four brand new bocce courts.
Meeting recently at Sunrise Park, along with several other past and present leaders of the Bocce Association, Priscilla and Joe reminisced about the formative years.
“Of course, we were delighted to see the bocce courts, but a little disappointed to realize so few people were using them,” recounts Priscilla. An ensuing article in the PebbleCreek Post encouraged residents to attend a Bocce Ball Demo Day in December 1998.
The next year, rules were researched and handwritten, four sets of bocce balls were purchased and Joe Naworski was elected president of the first organized bocce league in PebbleCreek. Official league play began with 150 players on 18 teams.
From its humble beginnings, the popularity of PC Bocce has soared over the last 20 years. Four additional bocce courts were added at Tuscany Falls in 2008 and league play was spilt between the two locations.
In 2012, another visionary California native, Cheryl Kasselmann, launched a campaign to build eight new bocce courts on one site, eliminating the complexities of scheduling competitions at separate locations. A petition with over 300 signatures was delivered to the Homeowners Association and negotiations began. On September 28, 2014 Cheryl’s dream became reality when hundreds of PC Bocce enthusiasts gathered to dedicate a beautiful state of the art Bocce Complex at Eagle’s Nest.
Today, nowhere is the joy and camaraderie of bocce more evident than in PebbleCreek where each fall, winter and spring, up to 700 players compete in the Wednesday and Friday Day Leagues and Tuesday and Thursday Night Leagues.
Ms. Kasselmann has led the Bocce Association since 2012 and on February 27, 2019 she will preside over a 20th Anniversary Dinner beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Tuscany Falls Clubhouse.
“I am so proud and honored to have the opportunity to recognize our former Association presidents and the countless volunteers, past and present, who have helped to make Bocce one of PebbleCreek’s most popular sports,” she noted. “I am looking forward to this very special event and encourage all players to join us.”