By Ryan Buck
Organizers of the inaugural Carmine Cassese Memorial Bocce Tournament expected lots of enthusiasm and plenty of interest from prospective bocce competitors.
Carmine Cassese, third-generation owner of Cassese’s MVR near the YSU campus, was a friend to many, but his reach is perhaps a little greater than even they could have imagined.
Teams from three states registered and players traveled to Cassese’s MVR from as far away as Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Cassese passed away in June of pancreatic cancer.
Andrew Sweeney heard about this weekend’s event from Farrell, Pa., native Carmen Schuville, one of the organizers, and decided he had to make a the trip.
“I heard about this tournament in honor of a gentleman who used to play the game of bocce,” Sweeney said of Cassese, a longtime advocate of the game and tournaments in the region. “I didn’t know him personally, but I heard a lot of great things about him.”
Sweeney and friends from Cleveland compete as a team and travel to tournaments whenever possible.
“I’ve been playing in about 20 tournaments. I travel mostly to New York state tournaments, through Ohio and travel when my wife allows it.”
A member of the Lockport Bocce Club in his hometown, Sweeney cannot help but see the Cassese event grow.
“It’s an honor to come down here. What a fabulous place and environment to play bocce.”
“This is very organized,” Sweeney said of the three-day event, facilitated by Schuville, Carmine’s older son, Joe, and a group of longtime friends. “I feel this town here has room to grow and I know you’re just getting started playing bocce down here, but I feel you’ve got the facility, the people are wonderful and I feel you can expand it to be something greater.
The tournament continues today as the qualifying teams will compete for the tournament title and part of the $5,000 purse.
Proceeds from the event benefit the CarmStrong Foundation, which will sponsor a YSU scholarship and a donation made to the OSU Medical Center.