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Children benefit from bocce ball tournament

DEL MAR — While the competition was stiff at the Vigilucci’s Beach Bocce Ball World Championship XXIX on July 18, laughter and smiles were abundant.
“The event has exceeded my expectations,” Pat Maldi, marketing and special events coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad, said. “It’s an easy crowd. They come out to have fun.”
The funds raised from the event go toward operational expenses that support children’s programming at the two clubs. “We have around 200 kids in after-school programs,” Maldi said. “We charge $25 per child and it actually costs $500 so we need to make up that $475 gap.”
The club offers physical education, nutrition education, music lessons, character building activities and academic tutoring.
During the life of the event, more than $500,000 has been raised according to longtime emcee Brian Cook. “Bottom line is that this is about the kids,” he said. Maldi said the tournament was expected to bring in at least $50,000 this year.
Despite the economic downturn, Maldi said sponsors and participants were easy to come by. “We sold out earlier this year than ever before,” she said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Camaraderie is the foundation that has helped the event grow to such large proportions over the years. “Look out there,” Cook said, pointing to the large crowd. “Do you see a loser?”
Although some teams were eliminated from the round robin-style tournament, it didn’t seem to diminish their spirits. With names like Kobra Kai and Those Bloody Irish, teams competed in four men’s and women’s divisions. “This is just pure fun,” Jerrod Singleton said. The Solana Beach resident has been a longtime spectator. “I love the fact that all of these people, sponsors, business get together to support a good cause,” he said.
In 1980, seven friends began the bocce ball tournament with a handful of players. Today the event has grown to include 320 teams with 600 participants on 61 courts and approximately 1,000 spectators. It is the longest running annual event on the beaches in North County.
Carl Bettis, one of the founders, passed away in 2007. A trophy dubbed the “perpetual Bettis” was created to record the names of all the winning teams and is on display at the Boys & Girls Club in Carlsbad.
Mick Marks and his son Brendan played for the team Skeach Marks. The Encinitas residents were enthusiastic about the event. “It’s a great time no matter who’s winning,” Mick Marks said.
Three teams were left standing after a long, hot day at the beach. Ivan Rakovic and Zeljko Jovanic won the men’s beginner/intermediate division, Jeff Jardine and Annie Cunningham won the co-ed division while Katie Underwood and Patty Peter won the women’s division.