Tourney rolls out support
Vernon’s own Nathan Opp pulled off a hatrick with the help of his Vancouver brother Ben in what has become a decade-old tradition locally.
The Opp brothers took a win for their third year in a row at this year’s Greater Vernon Open charity bocce tournament (VGO). Their winning title now ties the record for championship titles with the tournament’s founders Bill Trickey and Ed Schratter.
This year marked the tournament’s 10th year and what started with only 10 teams in 2004 now boasts over 80 teams a year, bringing in players from as far away as Australia, Toronto, Alberta and the Lower Mainland. The tournament is twice the size of the largest Vancouver tournament and can easily claim the title as the largest single day bocce tournament in Western Canada.
Partial proceeds of the event have been going to a charity that is both worthy and of personal interest to Schratter.
“Three years ago, my brother cycled around the world in an effort to raise awareness to the stigma that is often associated with mental illness in this country,” said Schratter. “Mental illness touches one in five Canadians, yet we still fear and often demonize those who are inflicted. The goal of my brother Mike’s charity, Ride Don’t Hide, is to help people realize that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, because if shame is associated with the illness, then people will often deny that they have a problem and it will often go untreated.”
Ed’s brother Mike was in attendance this year and along with his partner Jason Sartor of Vancouver, played the champions in a closely contested final this year.
The course, throughout the grounds at Coldstream Park, was filled with smiles, cheers, laughter, and a variety of costumes.
Okanagan Spring Brewery is a major supporter of the GVO.
“Without the support of Okanagan Spring Brewery we would be unable to donate to Ride Don’t Hide,” said Trickey. “OK Spring is a valuable member of our community and it is through their generous efforts that we can hold such events. Vernon should be proud of not only their success, but their commitment to our community and charities that it supports.”
Brent Casey and Brock Markly of Australia were particularly impressed with Spring’s offerings.
“Beer and bocce’ are a great combination,” said Schratter. “When you combine those two ingredients with a sunny day in the Okanagan, it makes for a wonderful and worthy experience.”
The GVO is held every year on the fourth weekend in July.
For a collection of photographs from the event, visit the Vernon Morning Star facebook page.