The Santa Clara volleyball team hosted its 10th annual Bocce Ball Fundraiser at Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos May 31. Bronco head coach Jon Wallace (JW) reflected below about how it came about, what he loves most about it and who he would love to see compete against each other.
SCU: How did you come up with the concept?
JW: Ten years ago we were thinking about how to raise money for our program. We wanted more money to travel to our preseason games and tournaments. In addition, we wanted to do some team-bonding exercises. We came up with Bocce instead of the traditional golf tournament as a fund-raiser because we like the competiveness of Bocce. We thought Campo di Bocce would be a terrific place to do it – it's gorgeous and a great place to raise money for our cause – the Bronco volleyball team.
We have been doing this fundraiser for 10 years and the generosity of the people who come to this event is amazing. The interaction in the group. I know it's a good event if it's loud! It's a really fun atmosphere. The highlight of this event is the 15 alums who came and they participated, bought stuff. The women who were on the Final Four team from 2005 where here and it was great to see them out supporting our program.
SCU: Can you talk about the participants?
JW: Our goal is to get 24 teams. When we first started, we ware very fortunate to have support of Devcon Construction, Andy Schatzman, Gary Filizetti. They talked business and also had fun. We mix in those people, our parents, past alums and so many more. We have 24 teams of six teams each and it turns into a pretty good party for everyone.
SCU: It's your main fundraiser. What else do you do at Bocce to raise money?
JW: We have been very lucky because we have a number of terrific silent auction items. This year one of my favorite items were the signed shoes by Ronaldo, the soccer great from Brazil. Past alum, Megan Purra, has donated Oakley gear and that went really well. We also had events like big dinners and another is a sailing trip around the Bay. One of our former All-Americans, Anna Cmaylo, her parents own a winery and donated some fantastic wine. We also have live auction events. We had a prize where 40 people get together, bottle wine and then get to take it home. That's always really popular. We also have a drawing for a basket of 50 bottles of wine. You are basically starting your wine cellar with this. The live auction, the silent auction and the wine making has been a really fun element that we have added.
SCU: How do you use the money you raise?
JW: A lot of the money we raise pays for our athletic performance coach, Ryan Leake. He's year round and this money pays his salary. It's a big help for us. With Ryan's help, we perform better because we are stronger. In the long run it helps prevent injury and helps us perform better.
This money also helps us with recruiting. We want to go on a national search for recruits. We want to recruit nationally and this money helps us go further than we would go otherwise.
SCU: Obviously you put a lot of work into the event. But you and your coaches and your team also enjoy the event.
JW: Our girls are here to meet and greet and say hello to everyone that comes to the vent. They are each in charge of a single court. They help score and teach people about the sport. They interact with the Bocce teams here playing. They are also paddle holders for the live auction event. We like them mingling as much as they can. People ask them about what they are majoring in, what their goals are. Everyone here is really proud of Santa Clara University. They are here to be the face of our program and they are the major reason why we are doing this fundraiser.
SCU: Sounds like a great event! Final question – who is your dream match-up?
JW: The best Bocce players that have attended for years are John Albanesse and his Dogs of War. They are always really good. This year Devcon won with Andy Bloom leading the pack. I think that for me to see, if I had to have our girls play against somebody, it would be their parents. To see them compete back and forth would be pretty fun to see. It would make for a lot of laughs.