Published in the 10/26/10 issue of the Suburban Journals
Spock over volo, please: The language of an Italian favorite
Bocce ball kindles community, family spirit
Clif Dellamano II remembers playing bocce ball in the backyard with his dad as a child. It’s a sport that’s rich in Italian tradition and one that his family has embraced for more than 40 years.
“I can’t remember a time when we didn’t go out in the backyard to play,” Dellamano said. “For me, it’s the enjoyment of being with my dad.”
Clif Dellamano Sr., 70, began playing when he got out of the service in 1963 and brought the sport to the Italian Fest with the help of Joe Ashmann in 1984. The tournament has evolved from a parking lot sport with 20 teams to a full-fledged event at Glidden Park each year, now with more than 65 teams. Clif Dellamano II and his cousin, Pat Dellamano now organize the event each September.
The Collinsville Area Recreation District, meanwhile, is planning to install a bocce court at its Arlington Greens Golf Course in Pontoon Beach.
“It is something to play with family and friends,” Clif Dellamano Sr. said. “It is a family tradition for us.”
According to his son, Clif senior has missed only one tournament since his family began organizing the Italian Fest tournament. He holds the “bragging rights” as the only member of his family to win throughout the years.
“If it wasn’t for him, this event wouldn’t be what it is today,” the younger Dellamano said.
Bocce ball, otherwise known as boccie ball, was played originally by Trojans and later by ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Dellamanos have played open land versus court games, leaving the strategy of the win up to fate.
“It’s a sport anyone can play,” Clif Dellamano II said. “There is a lot of luck involved – no strategy. Anyone can win at any time.”
Tournament winners at the Italian Fest event have changed over the years, though. “Years ago, it used to be a bunch of old Italian men playing,” Clif Dellamano II said. “Now, we have more families getting involved – more women, more kids playing with their parents and grandparents.”
While the tournament has changed, the game is still the same. “It’s a backyard game for us and something we enjoy,” he said. -What I enjoy the most, though, is partnering with my dad – he taught me how to play.”
– Shannon Philpott