Already in it’s 3rd year of existence by 2009, the DC Bocce League had grown to [5,000]+ young professionals gathering weekly during the Spring and hot DC Summers, beer in hand, feigning athleticism and playing the oldest game in the world: Bocce (pronounced botch-ee and similar to the French game Pitanque, also similar to lawn bowling).
A rag-tag group of friends cobbled together from DC-area Universities had banded together upon graduation to form a team, aptly named “Hot Lunch.” While the league had sponsors/partners from around the area (e.g. The Pour House on Capitol Hill), we felt it somewhere between fun and funny to seek out a sponsor to add a logo to our league shirts, to set our team apart from the crowd.
We sent a few notes out to the likes of 5 Guys & Johnny Walker, both of which responded with a simple rejection. Down but not out, we sent an email over to the fine folks at Ben’s Chili Bowl, who responded almost immediately with a “sure, we’d be happy to.” Game on.
After screen printing the BCB logos onto our league shirts and changing our team name to “Ben’s Chili Bowl Bocce” — we promptly went on a winning streak worthy of an ESPN 30 for 30 episode (okay, maybe not quite). Why does any of this matter? Winning the DC Bocce League doesn’t just entitle the champs to some trophies, scarves, champagne, etc… they get to select a charity to donate anywhere between $250 and $1,000 toward each season.
Working with Ben’s, we donated several thousand dollars to Teaching For Change, the bookstore you’ve likely seen at Busboys and Poets. In 2011 we directed our winnings to the good people at Think Local First DC, and have since donated over $6,000 since we through out our first Palina in 2008.
We’ve also gotten to know both the Ben’s Chili Bowl family and the Think Local First community quite well since then. In the past few years, the DC Bocce League has rolled up into Major League Bocce, with multiple locations, nights, and league types. From Vinoteca on U St to Vendetta on H St, you can’t miss the rise of Bocce. Here’s to a continued dynasty of Ben’s Chili Bowl Bocce!