Creig P. Sherburne/Atascadero News •
Jim Edwards, Ron Vasconcellos and Clark Rudy take a break and show off a bit of their hard work at the bocce courts they — with the help of countless other individuals and businesses — are building at the Colony Park Community Center on Traffic Way in Atascadero.
ATASCADERO — Atascadero’s can-do spirit is in evidence at the Colony Park Community Center where three fully ADA-compliant bocce courts are currently being installed.
At the forefront of the project are Clarke Rudy, Ron Vasconcellos and Jim Edwards.
Vasconcellos and Edwards are both the fathers of children with disabilities and Rudy is a retired engineer with an interest in doing good deeds.
Bocce is a unique game in that nearly anybody with any level of skill or ability can play it. Its history can be traced back to the Roman Empire, but the modern version was developed in Italy.
The game is played on a court similar in size and shape to shuffleboard by two teams of two, three or four players. The idea behind the game is to earn points by throwing a ball about the size of a croquet ball as close as you can to a smaller ball in the approximate center of the court, taking turns as play progresses.
It’s a little like horseshoes in that respect. Unlike horseshoes, however, it can be played by anybody, which is why North County Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program — affectionately nicknamed “the Bulldogs” — likes it so much.
“No matter what disability or skill level, anyone can play,” Rudy said.
And Edwards said he has two uncles, both in their 90s, who play the game weekly.
So it was a no-brainer of a game for the Bulldogs to play. The group played in an undeveloped, sort-of level area behind the Community Center and it was a hit. Children as young as 6 who need a walker to get around were able to enjoy the game.
“Last year, we played with rope courts and wood boards,” Edwards said.
But proper, ADA-compliant courts would make it even better.
“I could not find any[one] in the county or even the state that has true ADA courts,” Vasconcellos said. “[So] we approached the city and the city said yes. … Brady Cherry, the director of Atascadero Parks and Rec, obtained permission for us to build three bocce courts at their Colony Park site.”
And then everybody got involved.
Cal Poly’s Construction Jobsite Management professor Philip Barlow got involved. One of his classes, Vasconcellos said, began fundraising for the project and lending manpower to the construction efforts.
Brenth Fogg and Granite Construction, Vasconcellos said, “provided a road grader, backhoe tractor and skip loader for the task and he and another operator, [Cal Portland,] donated their time to grade and level the Colony Park site for the project.”
“[Granite] is doing a lot of work on the Grade,” he said, “so we’re waiting for their schedule.”
But things look bright. The project, it seems, will be complete by the end of June or maybe early in July. And when it’s finished, there will be three new fully accessible bocce courts situated right next to barbecue pits and restrooms and available to all the citizens of North County.
“I believe the Cal Poly bocce project is a perfect example of what can be accomplished by a partnership of university, city and community organizations,” Vasconcellos said.For the complete article see the 05-25-2012 issue.
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