Family effort brings Bocce Ball to Mills Park |

Family effort brings Bocce Ball to Mills Park

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Noma Perkins, 81, of Carson City, reacts after getting the closest ball in a bocce ball tournament at Mills Park on Saturday. Pictured behind Perkins is J.J. McCain's aunt JoAnn Robb, of Vacaville, Calif.

Some claim it’s the oldest game known to man.

Others say that’s not the reason why seniors love it.

Well, not the only reason.

“Bocce ball, what can I say?” said Carson resident John Bromwell. “I’ve been waiting to have (regulation) courts here for a long time.

“As a senior, what better way to socialize and spend two, two-and-a-half hours, competing with friends?”

Bromwell and 20 others descended upon Mills Park Saturday afternoon to – as Carson resident Noma Perkins put it – “roll.”

A pair of 60-foot-by-8-foot courts bordered by freshly stained redwood clacked with the crack of silver bocce balls followed by the claps and cheers of the mostly octogenarian rollers Saturday, all thanks to someone less than a quarter their age.

J.J. McCain, 16, a Carson High junior, got the idea to build the courts last year from his grandfather, Jim – an avid bocce baller.

The younger McCain took on the task as his Eagle Scout Project.

More than 200 hours and coordination of several volunteers in the community and with the city later – grandfather and grandson squared off toe to toe in Mills Park’s first Bocce tournament.

“I play a little Bocce now and then,” Jim McCain said. “The courts at Fuji Park aren’t regulation – these are just right.”

J.J. stood at the foot of one of his newly constructed courts and squatted down like a golfer eyeing a put – making sure the recently raked fine sand was rolling true.

“Yep, it’s playing pretty good,” he said.

The show of support for the courts extended beyond just family and friends, J.J. said.

“For me, it took a lot of work getting here,” he said. “But now that it’s done, I’m relieved, but also proud to know that (these) courts will basically be here forever.

“And people from around here can enjoy it.”

J.J. said the 60 feet needed for a regulation court was hard to come by in the southwest corner of the park where the two lanes are built. Illustrating with a swoop of his arm, he pointed to the southern redwood border and how it contours ever so slightly.

“We had to really squeeze it in there,” J.J. said with a laugh. “But it worked – right?”

As the elder McCain enjoyed a piece of carrot cake after his elimination from the tournament, he beamed at the court.

“It’s not just a game for seniors you know,” he said as he leaned over and examined how close to the target ball (a golf-ball-sized marker thrown out at the game’s beginning – the marker players try to get closest to, or touch) one of his teammates’ bocce throws came. “Not bad.”

Not bad at all, J.J. said.

“Yeah, I’m really excited to have my project done,” he said. “But the best part is knowing my grandpa’s proud of me.”

J.J. McCain said the Bocce courts couldn’t have been completed without the help of the City of Carson, Meeks Lumber and Hardware, Copeland Lumber, Carson Masonry and Steel, Kelly Moore Paints, All-Star Rents, Finest Fence and Artistic Fence.

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.