DU Alumni

Atlanta alumni chapter’s bocce team finds a new way to show DU pride


The Peach Pioneer squad just wrapped up its second season in the Atlanta Bocce League. Photo courtesy of Jason Evans

We train hard (as in, we show up a few minutes early to warm up)!

We stick to a strict team diet (beer — or, in one team member’s case, Moscow Mules).

And, of course, we keep ourselves hydrated during competition (again, beer).

Yes, bocce isn’t the most physically demanding of sports — and to be honest, maybe that’s why this group of University of Denver alumni in Atlanta like it so much.

Our Peach Pioneer squad just wrapped up its second season in the — ahem — Atlanta Bocce League. Yes, there is such a thing. After going three wins and four losses the first time around, the team got it together this time to improve to 5-and-2, qualifying for its first-ever playoff berth.

Jennifer Wilds (BA ’92) had never seen the game played before until she joined the DU alumni team a year ago.

“When I told a friend I had to learn before the first season, he taught me using a rolled-up napkin and grapes. Any game you can learn that way is a game anyone can play,” she tells me.

Fellow alum and Delta Airlines executive Patrick Marcovecchio (BA ’91) concurs: “It’s an easy game to learn and not strenuous or chaotic at all … like, say curling or cricket. Plus, it gets me active, outdoors and away from the office on weeknights. And there’s beer too!”

I think you can sense a theme here.

Marcovecchio graduated in the early 1990s. He rarely gets back to Colorado, but he hasn’t let his “Pio pride” ebb. He’s currently trying to get his tech-savvy nephew to enroll at DU to study gaming.

Activities like bocce, he says, keep his energy for the University of Denver flowing. “It’s like being a member of an exclusive Colorado club that these bazillion or so SEC and ACC alumni in Atlanta can never relate to, or get admittance.”

Meanwhile, the naturally outgoing Wilds has become an effective “bocce ambassador” for DU, easily making small talk with the other teams around the two sand courts at the side of a bar in Atlanta’s hip Grant Park neighborhood. (There’s are at least six league games a night, so there usually is a good-sized crowd hanging out, either playing or spectating.)

I thought bocce would be a great way to build camaraderie in our small Atlanta Pioneer alumni chapter. I figured a team sport might be more effective than the old fallback networking/happy hour type event.

I guess I should mention two things: I’m the chapter president, and I can’t stand networking/happy hour type events.

I give updates on the team via email and social media. We even have alumni come out to watch.

Wilds says she just wants to keep the good times rolling: “We have been able to share new experiences about our lives currently,” she says, “as well as discuss common memories that we share from our time at DU.”

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