Bocce team honored for winning medal at Cranston Senior Games

Johnston Sun Rise ·

The nationally-accredited Johnston Senior Center celebrated a unique first last Thursday with a special luncheon to honor its fun-loving bocce team.

In the middle of it all were Ron Galipeau and Andy Patrizio, who recently recorded a center first by winning the silver medal in the 21st annual Cranston Senior Games.

“This was exciting for everyone that plays bocce here,” Galipeau said. “Last year we finished fourth. This is the third or fourth year we’ve entered the games, but it was a first for winning a medal.”

Overall, the center entered five teams in the Cranston Senior Games, which afford senior citizens an opportunity to compete for medals – and enjoy friendly rivalries – at various locations throughout the city.

In keeping with tradition, the men’s and women’s bocce championships were contested at the famed Santa Maria DiPrata Club’s lighted courts in Cranston.

“There was a variety of competition in 11 different sports,” Galipeau said. “If you liked cycling, the games offered that challenge. If you like bowling – as many, many seniors do – this year’s games featured a duckpin tourney at the Legion Bowl, while Lang’s Bowlarama hosted the 10-pin event.”

The Senior Games also featured billiards, horseshoes, an obstacle course, basketball and softball throws, mind games, and field events like the javelin, 50-yard, dash and 400-meter walk.

“The Cranston Games are well-organized,” Galipeau said. “This time they had 14 teams and that may be a record, too.”

Galipeau’s gang, as someone called the bocce group, had five teams – three made up of men and two featuring women.

“We begin playing when the weather breaks in April,” Galipeau said. “We play three mornings each week … Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:30 to about 11:30 or 12, depending upon how the games go.”

When asked when the program wraps up for the season, Galipeau said: “We don’t have a date set to end the season. We may go another month. The people here really get into bocce.”

Some weeks, as Galipeau said: “We may have from 12 to 18 people. If the number is 12, we have two teams of six and nobody sits out. We have a red team and green team and play three games a day. Everybody here loves the system.”

However, bocce hasn’t always been among the programs offered as the Johnston Senior Center.

“When the center was built years ago,” Galipeau said, “they put in a beautiful, regulation bocce court. Trouble was there weren’t any games.”

That’s when Millie Santilli, the center’s assistant director, asked Galipeau if he’d organize some games.

“Of course, my wife Cynthia and I have been friends with the Santillis for years,” Galipeau said. “That’s what friends are for. I agreed and my enthusiasm continues to grow. Our bocce group is like a family. We clean and maintain the court and it doesn’t take much to organize the games. People show up and that’s it!”

There is, however, one small requirement if a person wants to join the bocce program.

“Oh, the fee is steep,” Galipeau mused with a smile on his face. “You have to be a [senior center] member, and that fee is $10 per year. That’s pretty darn reasonable when one considers all the many programs offered here.”