The score is tied 14-14. Only one more point is needed to win the match. The last player up takes a deep breath and gently rolls her bocce ball toward the small palina, the sphere that marks the target during each set. As her bocce ball softly knocks away a rival team's ball and comes to rest mere millimeters from the palina, she finally exhales, raising her arms to accept the onslaught of high-fives from her teammates and the congratulatory handshakes from the other team. Together, both teams adjourn to a local pub for drink and dinner specials that usually end with the construction of a solar-system diorama made from bocce balls and tater tots.
So goes another game of bocce in the Cali Bocce League, a highly social conglomerate of all ages, genders, and athletic abilities. Teams of 5–12 people take to local parks throughout eight-week seasons that conclude with playoff games. In addition to a trophy, gift certificates, and free admission to next season, playoff winners glean a prestigious 2-liter glass known as Das Boot, filled to the brim with beer or liquefied palinas. Occasional game cancellations due to inclement weather are posted online on Cali Bocce League’s Facebook page.