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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Keeping the Ball Rolling

It's game on for bocce ball enthusiasts at Cold Spring and Montecito Union schools

Parents do a lot for their kids’ schools. They volunteer in the classrooms, they chaperone field trips, they toil away on campus work days, and they raise money. Lots of money.

This past weekend, Noozhawk began a series of parent profiles to call some long overdue attention to our schools’ Most Valuable Parents. We’d be obliged if you could help us identify the go-to moms and dads at your school, the ones who, thankfully, are always there when we need them. Please send your nominations to [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.

Amid all the giving “for the children,” however, sometimes it’s useful if parents do some getting for themselves — with absolutely nothing at stake. Except bragging rights.

That’s what was on the line in Montecito on Saturday night during the second annual Golden Pollino bocce tournament between Cold Spring and Montecito Union schools.

The brainchild of frequent co-conspirators Garrett Speirs and Ted Simmons, the tournament drew a standing around-only crowd of some two dozen parents to Speirs’ Parra Grande Lane home. The fields of glory were Speirs’ own bocce court and another conveniently located in a next-door neighbor’s back yard.


Simmons and Speirs are no strangers to Noozhawk readers. When we last left them they were skiing La Cumbre Peak. The YouTube video of their daring exploits made its worldwide premier on Noozhawk, and became an instant hit with France’s Olympic ski team. Mon Dieu!

That was then and this is fall. A fall Saturday, to be exact, when the thoughts of red-blooded, testosteroned American males everywhere turn to ... bocce ball? Yes, bocce ball; we’re talking Montecito, remember?

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The Golden Pallino is surely one of the bocce world’s most prestigious trophies. (Garrett Speirs photo)
Last year’s tournament was won by Speirs and Mike Mayfield, his teammate. Mayfield may look like an athlete, but Speirs has the swagger, if not the build. But he’s a plein-air painter by trade, and a good one. And in bocce, as in art, it’s the touchy-feely stuff that carries the day.

If you ask Speirs, his Cold Spring crew entered the competition as the prohibitive favorite. Tossing out statistics right and left, he noted that the tiny Cold Spring community could count 19 bocce courts among its august families while poor Montecito Union had just one “unconfirmed” court. CSS is better at sports, he said, and smarter, too — having achieved the highest academic performance scores in Santa Barbara County for the past six years running. Strong words that smacked of ... smack.

Knowing a gotcha moment when I hear one, I quickly accosted Bob Kupiec, the genteel, nattily attired captain of the Montecito Union squad, to see what he had to say in response. The veteran school trustee wisely refused to take the hint.

“Balderdash,” he sniffed, or at least that’s what I scrawled in my notebook. “We’re the good guys. We’re plebeians who prefer to support local businesses like Arnoldi’s.”

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Cold Spring bocce bowlers, from left, Mike Mayfield, Paul Craig, Matt Lux, Rick Marcellin and Garrett Speirs chillaxin’ between rounds. (Speirs family photo)
Simmons had no such reticence about weighing in. Citing concern about global warming, the MUS partisan pointed out that the roots of the bitter rivalry were all about the environment.

“Look at this thing,” he said, poking a toe at Speirs’ finely packed gravel court. “The sun’s reflection off this surface alone has to be good for two or three degrees.”


With piping hot homemade chili and ample wine, a visitor could easily sense how the night would go. It really was more fun than gamesmanship, however, and three brave moms even competed: MUS’ Loryn Hodosy and CSS’ Erin Goligoski and Jill Wolf, the latter of whom was playing on her wedding anniversary with her husband, Dave. Meanwhile, Cold Spring dad Rick Marcellin, perhaps exploring a new career in the wake of last week’s Merrill Lynch announcement, was intently refereeing upper-court matches.

In the end, Speirs proved he could walk the walk as well as talk the talk. He and his partner, Mike Randolph, went on an 11-0 bowl and easily claimed the coveted Golden Pollino trophy, capping the festivities if not entirely silencing their worthy opponents.

For one night, at least, these adults were able to act like the kids they used to be. Beginning Monday, they’ll have their parent faces on again. Cold Spring School hosts its back-to-school night Tuesday and they’ll be back talking about foundation fundraising and the October jogathon.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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