VIRGINIA BEACH — Residents have been cutting loose after work with a beer in one hand and a bocce ball in the other.
With the help of a couple of friends, founder Kelvin Sealy kicked off the inaugural season at the start of June.
The league hosts weekly games Tuesdays at Green Flash Brewing Co. at 1209 Craft Lane and Wednesdays at The Shack on 8th on 712 Atlantic Avenue.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the game,” Sealy said. “There are a lot of people who only play bocce on the beach here, so once these people moved in I felt that nobody else was doing rolling bocce, and people love that as well.”
Sealy, 29, began playing bocce at 12 years old on the beach.
The Virginia Beach resident said he realized that there was room for his league to bring a more traditional style of the play to the people even though there were already other leagues established for freestyle beach bocce.
“I just saw an opportunity because here at Green Flash, they put in two bocce courts,” he said. “At the Shack they put in two courts, and I was like ‘I can run a league for you guys,’ and they wanted to do that, so I set everything up.”
Since the start of the season, dozens of people have come out during the week for friendly competition.
According to Matt Farrell, from the Green Flash league, people were drawn to play bocce after seeing how easy and fun it was to play, especially with a drink in their hand.
“It’s something that once they stand there and watch us play they want to play themselves,” Farrell said. “It’s not a demanding sport. It’s like cornhole or anything of that sort. It’s just a fun and easy game that can be competitive … or it doesn’t have to be.”
Farrell and his teammate, Turner Jones, joined the bocce league after hearing about it at the Virginia Beach Field House, where they played recreational soccer.
Turner said he felt the league provided a change of pace from a normal happy hour.
“I’ve always like playing games,” Jones said. “Sitting around drinking is one thing, but if you have an opportunity to play an activity and meet some new people and talk to everyone, I thought it just sounded like a good time.”
According to Carlene Martin, who plays at the Shack with her brother, many of the teams that showed up throughout the summer were there to have fun and mingle with people in the community.
“I know a lot of people came up and were asking questions,” she said. “It just overall looked like a fun thing to do in your community to make friends and have a good time, especially since it was so nice out.”
At the end of the night both Martin and Farrell’s team’s were named playoff champions for their respective venue’s leagues.
The sport of bocce has been around for a long time as earlier versions of the game date back to 5000 BC
As far as sports go, Sealy said, it’s a low impact, easy-to-learn game that is fun for people to do on a weeknight to “break up the work week.”
“Pretty much it’s basically a more sophisticated cornhole,” Sealy said.
Two teams made up of two players compete in a game.
Each team has four sets of colored balls and they roll out the target ball onto the court. Teams then alternate tossing their ball until they get closer to the target.
A game usually ends when a team scores 11, Sealy said. Bocce Virginia Beach games are best out of three to determine a winner of the night.
As the leagues very first season comes to a close, Sealy said that it was such a hit that they are planning to host a fall season.
According to Sealy, he will be adding a new venue to the league during the fall as he collaborates with the Virginia Beach Field House.
“Through social media they found me and wanted me to run a league for them, and I was flattered because they do all the league stuff,” Sealy said. “I feel honored to do that for them and collaborate. The thing that’s special about that one is it’s going to be all on sand, so it’s going to be a beach league away from the beach.”
Bocce Virginia Beach’s fall season will kick off on September 5 at Green Flash, September 7 at the Field House, and September 13 at The Shack.
Registration for the fall season is open. While the usual registration fee is $45 per person, early bird prices drop the cost to $40.
Early bird registration ends August 6. Applicants must be 21 years or older to participate.
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