The rewards of Special Olympics

Special Olympic athletes competed and cheered each other on to gain medals in the relatively unknown sport of bocce. These examples of great sport spirits were found at the Riverside Regional Bocce Tournament as part of Special Olympics. It was held on April 25 at the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium and four teams from all over San Bernardino and Riverside regional competed.

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By Javier Cabrera

By Javier Cabrera

Special Olympic athletes competed and cheered each other on to gain medals in the relatively unknown sport of bocce.

These examples of great sport spirits were found at the Riverside Regional Bocce Tournament as part of Special Olympics.

It was held on April 25 at the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium and four teams from all over San Bernardino and Riverside regional competed.

Teams made up of ages 8-years-old and older, competed in the ancient game dating back to 5000 B.C.

Bocce was once played by the Egyptians, then the rules were rewritten by the Greeks and carried on by the Romans.

Bocce is made up of teams of four people and in one game there are two matches played back to back.

The game begins with a coin toss, the winner then tosses the Pallino, the ball the teams will try to get their own ball close to.

The first game is played on one side of the field with the first team of two players rotating to push off their opponent’s balls to score. The first to eleven wins the match.

The concept of the game is that in each turn you and your opponent try to knock off the other team’s ball.

Ron Bolt, father of Doug Bolt who competed in the tournament, was pleased by his son’s performance. His son enjoyed his first time participating in the Bocce event.

Even though he had been practicing on artificial turf, Bolt was not upset when he learned that he was would be playing on regular grass during the competiton.

Bolt said his son was upbeat to perform in the event regardless and that the field change had no effect on his performance.

Bolt’s coach, Hilda Bojorquez, who also worked with Bolt ten years ago when he was in track and field, said, “He enjoys the high-fives given to him and seems to enjoy playing bocce.”

“I love being a part of Special Olympics,” said Bojorquez, who was managing three teams in the bocce event.

“It is so rewarding in so many ways,” said Bojoquez. “Watching the faces and happiness from the athletes is the absolute best.”

Her three teams from Temecula: the Blue Rockets, Super Starts and Power Players, all competed against each other, as well as teams from other cities, such as San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Riverside and Corona.

Bojorquez was extremely proud of all the players’ performances.

“They all worked hard as a team and supported each other with praise and high-fives,” she said.

The Temecula Power Players, who included Ed Zahorak, Mitch Thompson, Chris Vallejo and Vince Ortega, received gold medals.

For Zahorak and Vallejo, it was their very first tournament, which made the gold medals even more special for them.

When asked about her teams, Bojorquez said, “They were very happy and can’t wait for our next tournament which is at Saddleback College.”

The Super Stars received a silver medal and the Blue Rockets received a bronze.

“My winning teams were happy about their achievements, but if they would have received a fourth place ribbon, they definitely would know the difference,” Bojorquez said.

Bojorquez went on to say, “I encourage them by telling them that they worked hard and they will get those medals next time.”

At the end of the games, members of the Riverside County Sherriff’s department and a few of the players from the Lake Elsinore Storm minor league baseball team, along with the Storm Mascot, presented the awards.

“So that was the absolute topper,” Bojorque said.

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