This year marks the 25th year of Sunflower State Games, and the game of bocce ball continues to gain popularity since the first court in Topeka was installed in 2000.
“When we started, we had no place to play,” said Paul Metzenthin, who helped get bocce ball off and rolling in Topeka. “It was all new to us, the city, and everybody else. The city said they would purchase the materials if we installed the court.”
Eight years later, in 2008, the game had expanded so much, it was time to install a second court, and get bocce ball into the Sunflower State Games.
“It’s easy enough to play, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Metzenthin. “You don’t have to be strong, have athletic ability, or a whole lot of strength to do it. All you have to do is be able to roll a ball about 30 feet.”
“I love it. It’s perfect for older people,” said Lois Smith. “I’ve got a husband who can’t play golf anymore, but he can play bocce.”
“We don’t just dilly dally dale around, said Lois’ husband George Smith. “We get serious about it. We have good competition amongst the players.”
The game itself is simple. One team uses the four red balls, the other uses green. The object of the game is to roll your balls closest to the smaller white ball. Whoever is closest after all the balls have been rolled, gets one point, and the first to seven, wins the match.
“If you try it and you don’t like it, we’re still going to be friends,” said Metzenthin. “But at least you know you’ve tried the game.”
The Sunflower State Games kick off on July 12th and 13th On the bocce ball courts, there will be singles, doubles, and also mixed doubles tournaments.
“We invite everybody that plays here in Topeka to come on out and have a good time,” said Metzenthin. “Bring your A-game, and who knows, might even win the gold medal.”
The deadline to register for bocce ball is Friday July 4.