- Team Building Trips
We kicked off the year with a week in Cancun for Alicia’s Dirty 30! The Core 4 + Bocce Legends The Sisters Briglio stretched the limits of margarita intake over an unforgettable 8 day stretch. Because the nucleus was away, we had a chance to bring in some fresh meat—and they did not disappoint! Dan Spomer made his reffing debut, Jimmy Sisto saved the day on an event, and Autobots Andrew Benzer and Kurt Pozsgay proved that they were Kyle Schwarber-like pinch hitters (before Kyle Schwaber proved it, I guess).
Months later we celebrated Alex’s Dirty Dumb 31 with a retreat to Milton, Delaware. We swapped the margaritas out for 120-Minute and boasted the epic hangovers to prove it. Between kayaking the Chesapeake and stuffing our faces with lobster rolls we actually had some breakthroughs in the direction of the company.
- Bocce on Chicago’s Hallowed Grounds
On an unseasonably cold day in May, we set up a court at Soldier Field for the Chicago Beer Classic. We were hoping to set up right on the 50-yard line but settled for the concourse just outside of the South end zone. The upside? The wind was howling, temperatures dipped into the 40s and we sold out of hoodies!
At the end of July, we took two courts to Lollapalooza and had our very own 4-day Boccepalooza. The turf never looked muddier but the experience was well worth it. Fixed in a shady biergarten was a heavy rotation of bocce regulars and fresh faces tossing stones in between sets.
- You’re Not a Real Sports Organization Until You Have a Hall of Fame
One thing for certain in 2016 was seeing a handful of players separate themselves from the pack and establish a new level of American Bocce greatness. While it’s still true that anybody can beat anybody in a game of bocce, the best players do it the most consistently, rise to the occasion come playoff time, and always find their names on the Top 20 lists when it comes to stats.
This summer we established our first run of Hall of Fame bocce players and teams. Of course, our community is about more than just winning so we also decided that we would honor players that made a positive impact on our community as ambassadors.
Since the announcement, we’ve been gathering images, artifacts, and various ways to capture the best of the best of ABC. Soon we’ll unveil a physical Hall of Fame that people can see in person. Before that happens, we’ll be announcing our 2nd class of Hall of Famers in just a few weeks.
- Special Olympics Volunteer Week
Since Wicker Park Bocce, we’ve had strong ties to the Special Olympics community and have made some lifetime memories with the organization. Nothing will top 2015, when a group of us went out to Los Angeles for nine days to officiate the Special Olympics World Games, in what ended up being the largest sports gathering in 2015. But each year in September, we designate back-to-back Saturdays to volunteer at Illinois regional bocce tournaments and it’s truly our favorite time of the year.
We strike a nice balance of seasoned Special Olympics Supervisors (shout outs to Andrew Benzer, Lydia Willis, Kurt Pozsgay, Katie Freeman, and more!) and newcomers and help ensure that the bocce tournaments are memorable for the athletes. We usually don’t wear enough sunscreen. And we almost certainly meet for a celebratory beer after the day is complete. Looking forward to another great bocce season with Special Olympics in 2017!
- Extra, Extra Read All About Us
Staying true to how American Bocce was built, we haven’t really spent time or money on advertising, PR, or Marketing. All of our growth happened with hard work and organic exposure. So it always felt special when Chicago Tribune or DNAInfo would do a piece on us.
In 2016 American Bocce caught some attention and humbly blushed each time it would happen. Our favorite bit of press was when Ralph Lauren magazine called “American Bocce a full blown movement.”
We were also blown away by NBC’s local affiliate coming out to cover the playoffs of our pilot league in Knoxville, Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate doing a piece on us just last night, and being a finalist in Chicago’s 50 on Fire ceremony.
Maybe press isn’t such a bad thing after all?