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Running A Charity Bocce Tournament

It's relatively easy to run a small bocce tourney fund-raiser that makes several hundred to a thousand dollars. To make "big money" is another matter. You need a team who will undertake the tasks involved. First, you need to rent a facility and, if necessary, set up temporary courts. Above - some of our team members set up PVC lined courts on one of the indoor soccer fields at the SportsZone in Derry, New Hampshire. {Click the photo above to visit the SportsZone web site.}

Since we were going to serve lunch (Sabatino's of Boston's North End), we put down plastic to protect the Astroturf where food would be consumed. This event is the annual Martignetti Family Charity Bocce Tournament, held Columbus Day weekend and raising funds for a different charity each October.

The crew sets up tables and chairs and the dining area is ready for the caterer and guests.

We set up 8 tourney courts plus one for the kids. For our charity tourney format you need a multiple of 4 teams and 2 courts for each 4 teams - we had 16 four-player teams.

You'll need prizes (e.g. trophies, medals, jackets) for the winners. That's the 2005 tourney star, Drew, posing in front of the awards table and the prestigious Martignetti Cup.

Get community businesses and friends to donate gift certificates and prizes to raffle off.

Get some great sponsors like Tom and Joanne Grella (Grella Financial Services - click photo to view their web site). If they're good sports like Tom & Joanne, they'll even come and play. Put sponsor names on the tourney t-shirts.

Get the tourney director (Sandro Martignetti) to welcome everyone and to say a few words about the charity - The Joey Fund (Click the photo to visit JoeyFund.org).

Have someone (like yours truly) review the rules and the tourney format. Each team plays in a bracket of four teams on the same two courts. All 16 teams play at once. The games go to 12 points or 30 minutes, whichever comes first. After the first games, the two winners play and the two losers play another half-hour game.

When players register they are given a sticker with their name and a colored square that indicates their team. The bracket board shows for example, that red plays blue and green plays yellow on courts 1 and 2. The winners of those games play each other and the losers play. There are 4 mini-brackets to accommodate 16 teams. With a large field of teams you might have to get creative with color names (we used LIME, AQUA, and PLUM).

Let the games begin. All 16 teams play at once. If we had 20 teams, we'd need another two courts for this format and time frame to work.

This shot, taken from the rafters, shows how the entire indoor soccer field is used for the 8 courts, 1 smaller court for the kids, and dining area.

If you really want to "step up", get some good-looking referees like these guys from the Ken Waldie Senior Sports Circuit, Inc. They are fond of saying, "You can have a tournament without us, but it will be a disaster."

Try to get a couple of top players to help out. Left to right are topflight Massachusetts players Carmela Pagnoni, Laurie Coughlan and bocce promoter/superstar Rico Daniele.

After the first two sets of games (takes a total of 1 hour), we raise some extra money with a closest to the pallino contest ($5 per ball - win a pre-determined prize or offer it as a 50/50 raffle). Hint: we place the pallino on a metal washer. If the pallino is struck by a rolled ball, we measure from the washer to determine how close the roll was.

Lunch time. Bocce and Italian food. It's a no brainer. During lunch we seed the teams from 1 to 16 and place them in new, four-team mini-brackets. Seeding is based on win/loss record and point differential (e.g. - If you win your 1st game by 4 and your second by 3, you are 2 - 0 and Plus 7).

The top 4 seeds play for the title beginning with 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3. The winners play for "all the marbles". Seeds 5 through 8, 9 - 12, and 13 - 16 play for the championship in their respective brackets. The seeding pits teams against opponents with similar skill levels. You'll need awards for each of the mini-bracket winners. This format copied from Bob Valvano (Gotcha Bocce, Louisville, KY) and you can read more about it by clicking the photo above which links to volume 4 - issue 38 from 2005.

After lunch we resume play with the new seeded brackets. Two more games - a total of 4 half-hour games for each team for the day. They enjoy bocce competition, have a great meal, and support a worthy cause. Win - Win - Win!

Yes, always encourage players to bring the kids. Bocce is about Family!

Coach - do you want me to point or hit?

Kids of any age just like to roll balls. It's a primordial urge coming from our instinctive need for bocce.

The creative little guy in the previous photo devised two new games - "Bowling for Dinosaurs" and "Closest to the T-Rex".

Espresso and Gelato - two nice touches for the Columbus Day weekend event. Event organizer Anthony Martignetti minds the store.

Tourney T-Shirt logo. Sponsors names on the back.

Brackets are easy for beginners to follow. Just look for the colored square that matches the one on the tourney t-shirt you're wearing.

The 2006 Martignetti Cup winners.

The Bottom Line. The Martignetti Family, extremely well respected in the community, does a great job. They not only run a wonderful one-day event, but also spend weeks seeking out sponsors and donors who are willing to help a worthy charity.

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