Some of Grace Anzalone’s competitors call her the “Queen of Bocce.”
Anzalone, a divorced senior citizen, mostly spends her free time racking up wins in bocce ball games and tournaments. She started to dabble in the sport in 2001 and picked it up rather quickly.
At first, people on the courts made snide comments about having a rookie woman trying to rule the court, but after years of competitive action, the same people now call her to play on their teams.
“It’s really great because people are starting to know me now,” said Anzalone, who resides in Douglaston. “These people who first shunned me away from the game are now getting beat by me.”
This is not just Anzalone’s hobby – it’s more like her passion. She has made a name for herself in numerous leagues around the city and also won a few tournament titles in recent years.
She is steadily succeeding in competitive clubs such as, Bound Park, Cunningham Park and the Mount Vernon bocce club. Anzalone is a proud member of the United States Bocce Federation.
Anzalone travels from park to park looking for worthy adversaries in bocce. A lot of the time, she plays in the Bronx because they have more games going on simultaneously.
In 2002, her dedication to the game took her to her first city-wide tournament and she won first prize for the Bronx becoming the first woman in the city to ever win the tournament.
Anzalone understands that this is a sport dominated by men, but she also feels like it is time put women competitors on the map.
“I play almost seven-days-a-week,” she said. “If you just put the time in, you will see the results.”
Besides bocce, Anzalone works at the Douglaston golf course as a starter. When she is not working or indulging in her favorite sport, this mother of three daughters is putting the finishing touches on her book entitled How to do it Alone: The Art of Problem Solving.
“After being divorced, I found out how hard it was to deal with everyday tasks that I relied on help for,” Anzalone said. “I decided I needed to take care of myself, and I’m going to try and help other people who are dealing with the same issue.”
Anzalone plans to continue to challenge herself, leaving the petty court side bickering to others, while she perfects her game.