American Bocce Co. Brings a New Version of a Classic Game to Milwaukee

Mar. 9, 2017
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Unless you were one of the few people talented enough to be a college athlete, it is likely that high school was the last time you competed in a team sport at a high level. While our bodies grow old and worn out, and busy lives turn training time into family time, many of us gravitate to bar league sports to recapture the satiating exhilaration of a big win. In Milwaukee, hundreds of people organize volleyball and softball teams every year, but a new league has recently brought us an updated version of a classic game to a few local bars.

“American Bocce is a reimagining of the sport,” says Mike Purpora, who runs American Bocce Co.’s Milwaukee operations. “We’ve taken it from a formally played game on a big court to something that can pop up and be played in bars.”

Their version of the centuries-old Italian ball-tossing game is played the exact same way as traditional bocce ball, but on a court that is 30x8 feet, about half of the standard size. They also have a rule requiring players to have a drink in hand at all times. 

Purpora enjoys the social aspect of the game saying, “When I first played, subbing in for a team in Chicago, I immediately met four new people. You start chatting with these people, and the ball plays from one side to the other, so while the other guys are shooting you’re just talking to two new people. Week one you meet four new strangers. Week two you meet four more.” 

Currently American Bocce Co. has leagues running at Steny’s on Mondays and Sugar Maple on Tuesdays, with more days and locations to come. They even plan on playing year round. Leagues run for seven weeks at a time, allowing players the flexibility to not have to commit months at a time. “You can take a league off if you need to, and seven weeks later you can join a new one,” Purpora says. 

While some may feel intimidated to try something that they’ve never done before, Purpora assures that bocce is easy enough that anyone can play. “Some people say, ‘Oh I’m not athletic enough to play kickball or volleyball,’ but anyone can roll a couple stones at an object ball,” he says. 

The main goal for American Bocce Co. is to provide a fun, social experience for people to enjoy. “The objective is to build a community around bocce ball,” Purpora says. “We want it to become something people look forward to doing every week.”

You can sign up for American Bocce Co. leagues here, and keep up with them on Facebook and Instagram. Look for a chance to win a free team entry in our upcoming Ticket Tuesday giveaway. You can sign up for that here.


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