Bocce Awards Presented: Praise for the Program/Players

Chuck Rapport said a few words after receiving the “Mike Martini Award” at the bocce ceremony June 18 at Casa Nostra in the Highlands.

When asked how long she been playing bocce and why, the resident said she started playing about three years ago, “You meet so many people. It’s best community thing.”

She continued, “You don’t have to have your own equipment, anyone can play, and many people have never played before.”

And then she added, “Jimmy is so enthusiastic. His enthusiasm is infectious.”

The Jimmy she was referring to was Jimmy Dunne, who has started and operated the bocce leagues at the Palisades Recreation Center, since the courts opened in 2021.

But, tonight, June 18, was a celebration for the end of the bocce spring league. Casa Nostra restaurant in the Highlands was packed to capacity with players and teams.

Even the L.A. Times was covering the event. The Times photographer, who had just finished covering the Post Fire told this editor that sometimes its just nice to cover a community feel-good story.

Dunne acknowledged the more than 125 players, who had come for dinner and awards at the restaurant. “This is so beautiful, so wonderful,” Dunne said. “It has so little to do with bocce and everything to do with community.”

Dunne said there were about 535 Palisadians on 52 teams participating in the two spring leagues.

Champions of the Dolphin League were the Bocce Aces: Diane Tallant, Caryln Peterson, Chris Dickson, Julia Nilsen, Nancy Gillette, Diane Holt, Catherin Nadel and Cynthia Barry.

By virtue of playing on two winning teams, Diane Tallant was awarded the Most Valuable Player in the Dolphin League.

The Calvary Kisses won the Sunshine League and are congratulated by Jimmy Dunne (right).

The Calvary Kisses were the winners of the Sunset League and the team included Diane Tallant, George and Pam Douglas, Arthur and Millie Villaros, Bob Becker, Linus Morris and Donovan Scott.

In the Sunset League, there was a tie for most valuable player: Ellie Lederman and Miriam Braveman.

The most improved player in the Sunset League was Millie Villaros and for the Dolphin League it was Mary De Kernion.

“One of my favorite awards,” Dunne said, “is the Happy Camper award – a team just full of life. They love to come out and play – with them everything is beautiful.” Taking that coveted award this year was the I liff Bocce team. All the members live on Iliff Street, with the exception of one team member.

Jimmy Dunne (left) presented the “Happy Camper” Award to I Liff Bocce players.Of course, no sporting event awards is complete without an award for “The Snappies.” Dunne explained that the award is given to the best-dressed team, “who come out and look great.” The Lucky Strikes won that coveted prize.

The I Liff team won the “Happy Camper” award.

The top award of the night is the Mike Martini award, named after the late Dr. Mike Martini. Martini was a pediatrician in town, a member of the Palisades Optimist Club, a member of the American Legion, active at Corpus Christi Church, and singlehandedly organized the town’s blood drives. He was one of the first people to sign up for a bocce team. He passed away in 2022 at age 97.

“We all know and love Mike,” Dunne said. “We all remember the days when Mike’s caretaker was not watching and Mike would say, ‘come and get me’ [to his team]. And he would sneak away and play bocce. He was fantastic because of who he was,” Dunne said.

“The award is not because of how Mike played, but because of his spirit,” Dunne said. “Everything that is wonderful about the Palisades was in the heart of Mike Martini.

“The heart and soul of our league now is Chuck Rapport,” Dunne said in presenting the Martini trophy to him.

Rapport said he discovered the Palisades bocce league one day when he was walking his dog. Someone asked him if he knew how to play, and he said he had played Petanque (the French equivalent of bocce) for 25 years.

He started in this bocce league by coaching two women’s teams. Rapport said the women were just playing and he asked them why they weren’t practicing. He helped them set up different skills that they could practice.

The very skilled Rapport has now become an essential part of the Palisades bocce league.

To sign up for the Summer League (that starts July 9th), players and teams can reach out to Carlyn Peterson email: carylnppeterson@gmail.com of by phone (310) 699-1200.

The Bocce E Chianti players were named the most improved team. The L.A. Times photographer (right) snaps a photo.

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