New bocce court in Brockville, Ont. welcomes players
Residents in Brockville now have a new sport to play, thanks to a local non-profit organization and generous donors.
A two-lane bocce ball court has officially opened in downtown Hardy Park, on the west side where the old shuffleboard courts once sat.
The Brockville and Area Special Olympics had been working since 2017 towards this project.
"The bocce courts here in Brockville came about when the bowling alley closed and displaced 60 athletes," said Lori Murphy, Brockville and Area Special Olympics Bocce Team Head Coach.
"One of those athletes being my daughter, and we needed something to bring these athletes back together," she said. "We started with indoor bocce at Wall Street United Church and had a very successful season but we wanted to carry it to the outdoors."
More than $16,000 was donated towards the project, including $10,700
From 100 Women Who Care Thousand Islands, as well as a $6,000 donation from the Brockville and Area Community Foundation.
The local Special Olympics board contributed the rest, making it a zero-cost project for the city of Brockville.
"Right now we have about 30 athletes that are involved in the Special Olympics bocce program," Murphy added. "One of our athletes, Bree Christie, has recently qualified to hopefully become part of a women’s bocce team for the worlds in 2023."
The courts officially opened on Aug. 9 with a dedication celebration, and more than 100 people attending.
"We're hoping it inspires people to come out, young to our seniors, and enjoy an afternoon of a game that can be for anybody," Murphy added. "It's not geared just for persons with a special need; it's geared for all people because everyone is special."
Bocce balls are available to be signed out through the Brockville Public Library, and Murphy noted team registration is hoping to start in mid-September.
"Even when the athletes come here to practice and play, we've had people come along, have a seat and ask questions," Murphy added. "I'm more than willing to show people what the game is, how it's played, what it's about and who can use it. This is for everybody."
"My best advice is try it, you'll like it," she said. "It's a pretty easy game. You'll enjoy it, you'll have fun and you never know, you just might make a new friend."
Residents looking to play can contact the Brockville Public Library at (613) 342-3936, or reach out to the Brockville and Area Special Olympics through their website.