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Connie Richardson, left, helped organize efforts to build bocce ball courts at city park and to solicit bocce ball donations. At right is Matt Hamilton, parks and recreation director. (Photo by Stephanie Ockerman)

The City of Morehead now has bocce ball courts and balls that can be checked out from the parks and recreation department.

Bocce ball is a sport which originated in Italy; it is now played throughout Europe and the United States. In this sport, sometimes called lawn bowling, players toss balls underhanded at a small target ball within the confines of a court.

Last fall, Matt Hamilton and workers at Don Greenhill Park constructed two 12x90 bocce courts where the old city pool had been located. Bocce is an outdoor sport for all ages and skill level.

Several groups have donated bocce balls for use by the community: two sets donated by the Morehead Optimist Club that can be checked out at Laughlin Health Building and returned; two sets at Rodburn Elementary School; and sets donated by the Morehead Woman’s Club.

Hamilton, parks and recreation department director, said if more sets are needed, the city will purchase them.

Bocce is played with eight large balls and one smaller white target ball called a jack. There are four balls to a team and they are made in two colors to distinguish the balls of one team from the four balls of the other team.

Special Olympics uses a 12x60 bocce court. The bocce courts were requested because bocce is a summer sport for Special Olympics.

Connie Richardson, a retired social worker, helped spearhead the drive for bocce courts and bocce balls. “Every child deserves to be involved and have opportunities,” she said.

Donna Oakley, Special Olympics Director in Rowan County, has expressed an interest in adding bocce to their sporting events. Ralpha Harvey, a job coach at Bath County High School and the Bath County's Special Olympics Director, is also interested in bringing students to use the bocce courts at Morehead's city park.

Harvey is the Executive Director of the Special Needs Camp of Kentucky that is based in Owingsville. There is a week-long day camp each year in Owingsville. For information, contact katie.sncki@gmail.com.

Harvey plans to practice bocce with Gateway Special Olympics, which is for individuals who have completed high school.

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