The largest single-day bocce tournament in Western Canada saw a record number of females taking part last weekend.
The ninth annual Greater Vernon Open Bocce Tournament took place at Coldstream Park, with partial proceeds going to the Michael Schratter Ride Don’t Hide around-the-world bike marathon for Canadian Mental Health.
Tournament organizers Bill Trickey and Ed Schratter, along with their official corporate sponsor, Okanagan Spring Brewery, saw 92 teams of two compete against each other for over $1,000 in cash and prizes.
This year saw a spike in attendance by women showing that bocce is not just a gentleman’s game.
“With over 60 per cent of the participants being women, the girls kind of took over the place,” said Ed Schratter. “It was neat to see all the girls come out and play and do well. Three all-girls teams made it to the finals this year, that’s a record.”
Close to 200 costume-clad participants competed for the $200 top costume prize award in addition to the Top Team and the Top All-Female Team awards. Last year’s top placing female team of Roberta Rachwalski and Trish Martin took the costume prize this year with their Zombie Brides outfits.
Okanagan Heat team member Neil Blundell enjoyed the company of all the colourfully attired women. “I love the GVO!” he was heard shouting.
People from all over B.C. and Alberta competed in the one-day event that was almost four times the size of the annual Vancouver Bocce-by-the-Beach charity event.
“It’s nice to see that Vernon can bring in more people than a city of 1.5 million,” said Trickey.
This year’s repeat winners were the Opp brothers out of Surrey.
“Nathan and Ben, played a serious game,” noticed tournament regular Jason Webster. “Apparently they were ‘scoping’ out the terrain the night before and they took each game, one point at a time. It was fun to watch… until I had to play them.”
The Greater Vernon Open (GVO) started in 2005 with only 10 teams and topped just over 90 teams of two this year.
“Every year it gets bigger and better and we are proud to link the tournament with the fine, all natural products of our hometown’s most notable companies, Okanagan Spring Brewery,” said Trickey.
As in the past, this year will see partial proceeds of money raised going towards a charity that is close to co-coordinator Ed Schratter.
“Two years ago, my brother biked around the world to help raise awareness and money for Canadian Mental Health,” said Schratter.
The Michael Schratter Ride Don’t Hide campaign is not only raising funds for CMHA, but is also breaking down the stigma that is often associated with mental health.
“It’s nice to see local corporate support for fun, social events like these that are linked to important charities,” said Trickey. “The support that OK Spring has provided us has allowed us to start donating to Mike’s charity for three years now.”