Brent Wattie and Ryan Van Nieuwkirk dressed up for the occasion. (Photo submitted)

Brent Wattie and Ryan Van Nieuwkirk dressed up for the occasion. (Photo submitted)

Greater Vernon Open Charity Bocce Tournament a success

Partial proceeds are donated to The Ride Don’t Hide for Canadian Mental Health charity.

The Greater Vernon Open Charity Bocce Tournament (GVO) rolled out another successful event Saturday with over 80 teams vying for the title of “GVO Champs.”

The tournament took place at Coldstream Park. Despite the heat, many competitors showed up in team costumes to add to the fun, festive feel of the tournament.

Tournament organizers, Ed Schratter and Bill Trickey were pleased with the turnout as teams from all over B.C., Alberta and competitors from as far as Scotland and Austria battled it out on the grass.

“Every year, more and more people are booking their holidays to the Okanagan around the GVO,” said Schratter.

The charity event which has been running since 2005 donates partial proceeds to a charity that is close to Schratter and his family. The Ride Don’t Hide for Canadian Mental Health was a charity started by Schratter’s brother Michael who has devoted his life to battling the stigma associated with mental illness.

“Like many families we’ve struggled with impact that mental illness can have, not only on the person suffering, but on family members as well. We know that the first way to help is to acknowledge the illness; to address it without shame or guilt, so that it can be dealt with in the open like any other illness,” added Schratter. “Any chance we have to talk about mental illness is a step in addressing that stigma”.

Since 2010 Okanagan Spring Brewery has partnered to help make this important charity event such a big success.

“We cannot express enough how grateful we are to our hometown brewery, Okanagan Spring,” said Trickey. “The support that we receive from Okanagan Spring allows us the opportunity to divert funds to Ride Don’t Hide. It is great when local business’ team up with local charity events like the GVO and the combination of beer and bocce is hard to beat.”

The round-robin format of the tournament had 16 pools in two divisions. The fun, social aspect of the round robin switched to a competitive edge in the playoffs as competitors quickly realized that they were close to winning one of the largest bocce prize purses in Western Canada.

“With $400 for first place, people start to focus,” said Trickey.

In addition to first place, money is also awarded to the top-placing all-female team and a top team costume award. This year’s $200 costume prize went to “Rosie the Riveter” duo of Amy Willms and Breanne Towson, and the top placing all female team of Georgina and Erica Opp took home another $200.

In the final game, local boys Dave Hentschel and Ryan Best went up against two brothers from Surrey, Nathan and Ben Opp.

“The Opps are four time GVO champs and even though Nathan now makes his home in Vernon, we still tease him about being from Surrey,” said Schratter.

Trickey added; “The Opps are a team to take seriously, so we knew the final would be exciting”.

Related: Bocce tourney popular

Related: Bocce event attracts a crowd

The boisterous crowd in attendance for the final game were quieted when the Opps began to battle back after giving up a big lead in the first half of the game. The persistent Opps chipped away in a series of one point rounds, until Hentschel found his second wind. With a series of two point rounds, the Opps struggled to contain the two Vernon boys.

In the final round on their last throw, Nathan Opp bounced his ball in tight in what many believed was a secure point. Unfortunately for the Surrey brothers, Ryan Best of Vernon not only pushed aside the pressure but also pushed aside two Opp blockers and then bumped out a third to secure the winning point.

“It was a terrific end to a terrific day,” said Hentschel. “I can’t wait for next year to defend the title.”

The Greater Vernon Open runs every year on the fourth Saturday in July.

Related: Vernon students win poster prize

Related: Bocce tourney rolls a record

Related: Vernon Ride Don’t Hide event raises $59,000

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Ed Schratter, Bill Trickey, Jennifer Ternier and Leigha Parks play bocce. Schratter and Trickey are the program organizers. (Photo submitted)

Ed Schratter, Bill Trickey, Jennifer Ternier and Leigha Parks play bocce. Schratter and Trickey are the program organizers. (Photo submitted)