Asian Athletes Rock the 2011 Boccia World Cup

The gold medal winning South Korean team, courtesy of University of Ulster News.

On its face, boccia can seem like a straightforward sport. The events at last week’s Boccia World Cup in Northern Ireland, however, showed how mistaken this assumption is. Asian athletes brought a whole new style of play to the tournament and were handsomely rewarded with a serious collection of podium hardware. The BC1 and BC3 divisions were dominated by competitors from Asia, especially by a South Korean team that took home the gold in BC1, swept the BC3, and claimed the overall team gold. David Smith, a member of the British squad and 4th place finisher in BC1, explained the differences in technique to “The Asians play a very different style,” he said. “They have a more open and aggressive style, taking the jack much higher up the court.” Portugal and Brazil also had solid showings, taking home several medals apiece in the BC2 and BC4 classes. You can view the complete results on the Sports Ulster website.

BlazeSports is the governing body of USA Boccia, and while the American team failed to claim any medals at this World Cup, we are extremely proud of our squad. The competition in Northern Ireland has only whetted our appetite for some more hardcore boccia action in London next year at the Paralympic Games.

For more info on BlazeSports boccia, check out the boccia section of our site!

Posted in Blog, Boccia |

BlazeSports’ Boccia National Team at 2011 World Cup

The 2011 Boccia World Cup is currently underway in Ireland. Follow BlazeSports America’s Boccia National Team as they compete against 32 other nations.

BlazeSports America’s 2011 Boccia World Cup Team Heads to Ireland

Wednesday, August 17 was travel day for BlazeSports America’s 2011 National Boccia Team. Our team of 9 athletes and 10 staff departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for Belfast Ireland and the 2011 World Cup. Thursday and Friday will be arrival days, classification, equipment check and pre-tournament practice. Saturday, August 20 is Opening Ceremonies and Pairs and Teams begin competition on Sunday, August 21.

The World Cup is the last major international Boccia competition before the 2012 London Paralympic Games and will include 191 athletes from 33 countries.

The 2011 National Boccia Team members are:

BC1 Division

TJ Hawker                 Toledo, OH               Individual and Team Play

Luke Labas              Fort Wayne, IN          Individual and Team Play

Cornelius Oatis       Columbus, OH         Individual and Team Play

Jennifer Jay              Pinellas, FL              Individual and Team Play

BC2 Division

Marck Harrison        Columbus, OH         Individual and Team Play

BC3 Division

Austin Hanson         Topeka, KS               Individual and Pairs Play

Lee Lobmeyer          Topeka, KS               Individual and Pairs Play

Sam Williams          Elmhurst, IL              Individual and Pairs Play

BC4 Division

Patrick Elliot              Peculiar, MO             Individual Play

“Boccia has been on the sport program of the Paralympic Games since 1984. The Paralympic version is based on the game that originated in Italy and has since spread worldwide,” said Carol Mushett Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer for BlazeSports America. “We are very excited to about this team of talent athletes and their chances for medals at the World Cup..”

One of the fastest growing Paralympic sports, boccia is played one-on-one, in pairs or in teams of three and is contested an indoor hard court surface.  The object of the sport is to throw or roll game balls so that they land as close as possible to the target ball called the jack. After all of the balls have been thrown, the closest team receives the number of points equal to the number of balls that they have closer to the jack than their opponent’s closest ball.  The disability sport community initially adopted boccia as a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy but it is now open to all athletes with significant physical disabilities. The sport is a test of concentration, accuracy and strategic ability.

2011 Boccia World Cup:  Team USA Prepares for Competition

Team USA joins 32 other countries in the largest Boccia competition prior to the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Belfast, Ireland: Team USA joined teams from 33 countries in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 Boccia World Cup.  Veteran team member, Lee Lobmeyer, was selected to carry the USA sign during the Parade of Teams, while rookie team member Luke Labas had the honor to be the flag bearer for Team USA.

Luke Labas of Fort Wayne, IN was flag bearer for the Opening Ceremonies.

Lee Lobmeyer of Topeka, KS leads Team USA into the Opening Ceremonies.












With Opening ceremonies over, Team USA began to focus on Sunday’s first round of competition. Team USA combined court time with team strategy meetings to develop a competition plan for the first round of matches.  Team USA (23) begins  pool play with matches against Great Britain (2), Hong Kong (9) and Brazil (12) on Day 1.  Team competition is played with three players per team with two substitute players for a total of five players. Team USA is made of two veteran players TJ Hawker (3-time Paralympian, OH) and Jennifer Jay (2-time Paralympian, FL) and three rookie players, Luke Labas (IN),  Marck Harrison (OH) and Cornelius Oatis (OH).

Team preparations continue off the court in a team strategy session.

Team USA taking full advantage of allotted practice time in preparation for Day 1 of competition.

Team USA’s BC3 Pairs team also has a busy Day 1 of competition. Pairs is played with two players from each team with one substitute.  Team USA’s Pairs Team is made up of three veteran players; Austin Hansen (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams (IL).  Currently ranked tenth in the world the USA trio is competing for a spot in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.  To get there they need to start by dominating round one of pool play which includes get past Belgium (7), Portugal (2) and Argentina (19).

Team and Pairs play will continue for three days and is followed by individual play. Results will be posted as they come in.

A Father’s Reflections on His Son’s Accomplishments

from Jim Labas,  father of Luke Labas

Thanks again for giving him the honor. He will never forget that, nor will I. Appreciating more each day what this sport does on so many levels.



So today, 3,603 miles from home, a 17 year old athlete carried the flag of his nation onto a floor of competition. He carried it as anyone who has the honor to carry our flag in a foreign land carries it. With pride, honor and a respect for all that it represents. He carried it for everyone back home, especially his Mom, brother and sister back in Indiana cheering him on. His brothers that salute it everyday, everyone that has supported him on this trip and are a big part of making it all possible, his friends and supporters at Turnstone. But mostly he carried it for anyone back home with any form of a disability.

The nine athletes that are here wearing Red, White and Blue represent the best that a core of resilience and determination has to offer. For anyone that faces challenges in everyday life that we with able bodies take for granted. For the extra time it takes just to prepare in the morning to start ones day. For the obstacles in everday life that a world that wasn’t designed for them presents. For dealing with something as simple as a mosquito bite that can’t be scratched, because one cannot will their body to do that simple task, so they just mentally deal with it as they just mentally deal with so many discomforts, aches and pains every single day of their life. But at this time, during this week, in this city in Northern Ireland, they will meet their own. They will meet 200 athletes from 32 other countries that have the same mental tenacity to deal with everyday obstacles and push through the road blocks in their way. They have found a way to compete. An avenue to channel their will to better themselves and push beyond what was their past performance to something even better. They will feel their heart beating through their chest as a key throw is needed at a critical time to score and they will mentally deal with it. They will force their bodies to do more than they are comfortable doing so that they don’t feel they let themselves, their teammates, their coaches and their supporters back home down. How could they? They will focus as any athlete does. They will focus on what they have trained for and practiced. They will push their bodies to excel on a world stage. They will do what everyone with a disability does every single day of their life. Adapt, improve, give it their all and push on. Great Britain, Hong Kong and Brazil are the first on the list. Let the games begin. Proud of you Luke Labas.

Team USA Struggles on Day 1

The 2011 World Cup started with Pairs and Team Play.  Team USA BC3 Pairs team was made of three veteran players, Austin Hanson (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams (IL).  The USA trio had high hopes of improving their #10 ranking in the world and maybe even qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

USA Pairs (#10) experienced a very slow offensive start losing their first game to Belgium (#7) by a score of 13 – 1. Their sluggish play continued in the second game against #2 ranked Portugal and it resulted in a 10 – 1 defeat. Third game of the day was against 19th ranked Argentina. As expected the match was much more competitive for our USA Pairs. The wind had been taken out of our Pairs team after their two earlier losses and they just couldn’t pull this one out and lost 4 – 3. With that our Pairs team was done and would not advance out of pool play.

USA Pairs playing 7th ranked Belgium

BC1 & BC2 Team play drew a tough first match against the reigning champions and #2 ranked Great Britain. Although they lost 9 -1, it was an excellent game. With the exception of one end where Team USA  gave up four points, they held GB with excellent blocking allowing only 1 – 2 points per end.

Game 2 paired Team USA against # 9 ranked Hong Kong. Hong Kong dominated winning the match 14 – 1.  Game 3 match Team USA  against # 12 ranked Brazil who hand us our third straight loss 10 – 0.

Team like pairs did not make it out of pool play.

USA Team playing 12th ranked Brazil

Team USA Rolls into Individual Competition

Team USA on a roll in the first day of individual competition with mixed results.

Rookie Team members, Cornelius Oatis and Luke Labas unfortunately drew the same pool and had to go head to head in their first individual match of the tournament.  It turned out to be a very close match, ending in a 2 – 2 tie. In the tie breaker, Luke kissed the jack on his third ball to take the point and eventually the win his first international match, even though it was against his teammate.

Luke Labas gives teammate Cornelius Oatis a quick head rub after their first round match.

Luke’s second match was against Joao Paulo Fernandes of Portugal. Fernandes is ranked #2 in the world after placing second in both the 2010 World Championships and 2009 European Championships. Luke’s international inexperience help him in this match because to Luke Fernandes was just another player. The USA rookie was in the lead in the first end until Portugal kissed the jack with 2 balls to go. Luke set up his block to hold Portugal to 1 point. Coming back in the 2nd end, Luke kissed the jack forcing the Portuguese player to toss all his balls in an effort to score. Luke took the point in second end. Fernandes came back in the third end scoring 2 points followed by Luke scoring a point in end 4. Final score: Luke 2 Portugal 3….an OUTSTANDING MATCH against the #2 ranked player in the world for our young USA player!

Cornelius just off a close loss to his teammate had to face long time international veteran Brock Richardson of Canada who is currently ranked #32 in the world. Similar to Luke’s second match, the USA saw back and forth domination of ends with Canada scoring 1 point in the first end, Cornelius threw long in the second end and scored 1 point, Brock played a short game left in the 3rd end to take the point and finished the 4th end with a very close point for the 3 to 1 win over Cornelius.


Cornelius Oatis congratulates Brock Richardson of Canada on his close win.

Cornelius had two tough matches to finish out his pool play. He lost 7-0 to #2 ranked Joao Paulo Fernandes of Portugal and 2 – 6 to Lukas Balazi (#33) of Slovakia.

Being in the same pool as Cornelius, Luke Labas had to play Brock Richardson (#32) of Canada in his third match of the day. Brock started his boccia career in 2006 and has been a member of the Canadian National team since 2007 and was a member of the Beijing Paralympic Team for Canada. Luke played an excellent game for this being his first international competition. Richardson won a very tight match 3-1.

Team USA BC3 teammates Austin Hanson and Lee Lobmeyer also drew the same pool and had to face off in their first individual match of eth 2011 World Cup. Lee won the toss and chose to throw 1st and 3rd ends from box 3. She placed her jack deep in the back left of the court which provided a great challenge for Austin and resulted in 3 points gained for Lee. In end 2, Austin came back and placed his jack slightly over the V line on his right. He followed up with his blue ball that fell approx. 10″ short of the jack allowing Lee to roll and tighten up the gap. An equipment malfunction caused Lee to run down the clock and she ended up losing the last 3 balls to loss of time. This was a major turn in the game and the opportunity for Austin to score 6 points. In end 3, Lee came back to score 3 points to tie the game 6 – 6. In end 4, Austin busted it open and score 5 point to win the match 11- 6….a well fought battle.

Marck Harrison lost his first match to Pablo Sebastian Gonzales of Argentina 0 – 5. Pablo scored 2 in the first end and Marck held him to 1 point each in end 2, 3, 4 with a very defensive game.

Marck rebounded off his morning loss by winning his afternoon match over local favorite Jason Kearney (#33) of Ireland 3-1 in front of the home crowd!

USA Marck Harrison vs local favorite Jason Kearney of Ireland

In other Team USA first round matches veteran players won 1 of 3 matches:

Tim Hawker (#21ranked) won his BC1 match against Leena Sarela (#40) of Finland 6 – 3

Sam Williams (#58) lost his BC3 match to Keita Kato (#`14) of Japan with a score of 2 – 8

Jen Jay (#47) lost her match 1- 7 against Kam Lung Wong (#20) of Hong Kong


TJ Hawker had an undefeated day of play.

Sam Williams vs Keita Kato of Japan













Team USA rookies drew extremely tough draws against #1 and #2 players in the world:

Marck Harrison lost his BC2 match 2-11 against Zhiqiang Yan (#2) of China

Patrick Elliott was over matched his BC4 game against Pinto Dirceu (#1) of Brasil and lost 13-0 and lost to Domingos Viera 0 – 10 in what is proven to be a very competitive BC4 division.

Later in the day Team USA BC3 results included:

  • Sam Williams (#58) lost  to Sandra Pena (#11) of Spain 1-9
  • Austin Hanson (#17)   lost to  Veronica Pamies (#56) of Spain 1 – 8
  • Lee Lobmeyer (#78)  lost to  Armando Costa (#10) of Portugal 0 -12

Lee Lobmeyer vs Armando Costa of Portugal.

Rounding out the final matches of the day Team USA BC1 players had mixed results:

  • TJ Hawker won his second match of the day against Borris Sever (unranked) of Slovakia, 4 – 0 in a well thought out match
  • Jennifer Jay (#47)  lost to Nunes Neto Antonio (#9) of Brasil 4 – 8
Posted in Boccia |

BlazeSports America National Boccia Championships – Final Results

National Boccia Championships: Day 4 Medal Rounds

2011 National Boccia Champions Pairs Division: USA Pairs - Austin Hanson (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams

2011 National Boccia Champions Team Division: Kansas Tornados - Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS), Andy Olivarez (KS) and AB Anwar (CA).

With Pairs and Team Champions already crowned, the last 2 days of the competition focused on singles play and Day 4 at the National Boccia Championships means the medal rounds. Sixteen of the best Boccia players in the country playing single elimination, win or go home, to determine National Champions in three Divisions; BC1, BC2 and BC3.

Early in the week the National Champions in BC4, Pairs and Team play were decided.







2011 National Boccia Championships: BC 1 Final Results

In the BC1 semi-finals, National Team member TJ Hawker (OH) faced former National Team member Andy Olivarez (KS) and rookie National Team member Cornelius Oatis (OH) drew former Paralympian Kenny Johnson (IL). TJ continued his consistent play with a solid 11-0 shutout over Olivarez. In the second semi, the “blast from the past” Kenny Johnson took all that rookie National Team member Cornelius Oatis could throw at him. The matched ended in a 5-5 tie, requiring an additional end as the tie-breaker. Kenny was able to score a single point to advance to the championship game.

The Bronze medal game saw experience win over youth. Former National Team member Andy Olivarez (KS) was too much for rookie National Team member Cornelius Oatis (OH). Andy won the Bronze with a 5-2 victory over the Buckeye from Columbus.

The Gold/Silver Medal match pitted two Paralympians against each other for the first time in more than ten years. Current National Team member and 2008 Beijing, 2004 Athens and 2000 Sydney Paralympian TJ Hacker (OH) faced Kenny Johnson (IL) a 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Paralympian. TJ started strong with a 6-0 lead after two ends. Kenny played more defensively in ends 3 and 4, but could only score 2 points in the final two ends. Youth won out today and TJ won his third consecutive BC1 National title.

Gold: TJ Hawker (OH)

Silver: Kenny Johnson (IL).

Bronze: Andy Olivarez (KS)

Click here for complete BC1 FINAL RESULTS

TJ Hawker and Kenny Johnson Shake hands before the BC1 finals. Between them, they have represented the USA in 5 Paralympic Games.

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC2 Final Results

BC2 semi-finals competition matched Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS) against Rafael DeJesus (NY) and two former National Team members Brigid Mason (IL) against AB Anwar (CA). Lizzie and Rafael traded leads throughout the four end match and ended up tied at 5-5. Swick prevailed in the overtime tie-breaker and advanced to the Championship Game.

In the other semi-final match, the battle of former National Team members, AB Anwar played a strong match and beat Brigid Mason 8-1. AB earned the right to replay Lizzie and attempt to reverse the results of their first meeting earlier in the week.

The Bronze medal game matched former National Team member Brigid Mason (IL) against second year upstart Rafael DeJesus (NY). Rafael had all the right rolls and finished with a 6-1 Bronze medal win.

The championship game was a re-match of the BC2 Pool 1 game where Lizzie Flora-Swick edged out AB Anwar 3-1. When the Gold medal was on the line AB rose to the occasion and played a solid game for an 8-2 win.

AB Anwar, 2011 Gold Medalist in BC2 Division.

Gold: AB Anwar (CA)

Silver: Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS)

Bronze: Andy Olivarez (KS)

Click here for complete BC2 FINAL RESULTS

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC3 Final Results

The Championship Day for the BC3 division started with 8 in the quarterfinals. The results of each of the four matches were surprising similar. All four top seeds, Austin Hanson (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS), Sam Williams (IL) and Charlie Fleisch (NY) advanced to the semi-finals. Austin recorded an 8-1 win over Mike Salerno (NY); Lee beat Howie Cohen (NY) 9-0; Sam Williams won his match over Fawad Zakai (GA) 8-0 and Charlie bested his teammate Mark Paramadani (NY) 8-1.

Semi-final matches were Austin Hanson against Lee Lobmeyer and Sam Williams facing Charlie Fleisch. Lee Lobmeyer tested the skill of top ranked and fellow National Team member Austin Hanson. Lee led 2-0 after two ends and 2-1 after the third end. Austin, who was playing for his 8th consecutive trip to the BC3 championship game, pulled it out with his last shot of the match to score two points and win 3-2.

Second ranked and local favorite Sam Williams had his hands full with National Team alternate Charlie Fleisch. Charlie copied Lee’s performance in a low scoring game and led 2-0 after two and 2-1 after three ends. Sam was able to come back in the last end and force an overtime tie breaker, but Charlie got the last roll and scored 2 points to advance to the championship game.

The Gold/Silver Medal match represented Austin Hanson’s 8th consecutive appearance in the National Championship Game. In fact it was his 13th appearance in the last 16 years. His opponent Charlie Fleisch (NY) was coming off a bit of an upset in the semi-final round. Charlie played the top ranked player in the US down to the last end and scored more points than any of Austin’s opponents all week. Charlie’s five points fell short with the final score Austin 9, Charlie 5.

Austin Hanson on his way to his 8th consecutive BC3 national championship.

Gold: Austin Hanson (KS)

Silver: Charlie Fleisch (NY)

Bronze: Sam Williams (IL)

Click here for complete BC3 FINAL RESULTS

Charlie Fleisch from the Nassau Thunderbolts (NY) won the Silver Medal in the BC3 competition and was named “Most Valuable Player” of the tournament.


BlazeSports America would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance:

World Sport Chicago, Pam Redding

The City of Elmhurst Park and Recreation Department; Jim Rogers

York Community High School

John Rutter, Athletic Director

Boys Cross Country Team

Girls Cross Country Team

Girls’ Volleyball Team

2011 Facility Search Committee: Pam Redding, Jim Williams, Sam Williams, Kathy Brinker

Gateway Special Recreation Association

Clarion Inn Elmhurst: host hotel

Transportation Coordinator: Sheila Swann-Guerrero

Transportation provided by:

Fox Valley Special Recreation Association

Gateway Special Recreation Association

Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation

Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association

Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association

Northwest Special Recreation Association

South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation

South Suburban Special Recreation Association

Tri-County Special Recreation Association

Western DuPage Special Recreation Association

West Suburban Special Recreation Association

Games Director: Marybeth Jones

Competition Coordinator: Becky Prince

Head Official: Mary Knudsen

Officials: Drew Achenbach, Kevin Hughes, Harold Johnson, Seth Kidder, Gail Kohn, JJ Lewis, Cornell Markham Jennifer Mugnaini, Brenda Palmer and John Tepper

Event Volunteers: Cathy Brinker, Bob Broderrick, David Hinds, Jacque Payne and Candace Ruzek

BlazeSports Boccia Sport Technical Committee

Kathy Brinker, Cathy Drobny, Mary Knudsen, JJ Lewis, Becky Prince, James Thomson

Lunch Sponsors: Click-fil-A, Jimmy Johns, Little Caesars Pizza

A special thanks to BlazeSports of America national office staff: Cheryl Holiday, Belinda Morris and Cully Mason.

2011 National Boccia Championships Award Winners:


Gold: TJ Hawker (OH)

Silver: Kenny Johnson (IL).

Bronze: Andy Olivarez (KS)


Gold: AB Anwar (CA)

Silver: Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS)

Bronze: Andy Olivarez (KS)


Gold: Austin Hanson (KS)

Silver: Charlie Fleisch (NY)

Bronze: Sam Williams (IL)


Gold: Charles Brown (FL)

Silver: Patrick Elliot (KS)

Pairs Results

Gold: USA Pairs: Lee Lobmeyer, KS, Sam Williams, IL and Austin Hanson, KS – 6 -0

Silver: Nassau Thunderbolts (NY): Charlie Fleisch, Howie Cohen and Mark Paramadani – 5-1

Bronze: Rolling Thunder: Mike Salerno, NY and Fawad Zakai GA) – 4-2

4. UCP Fire Balls (IL): Daniel Garringer and Candace Gregg – 3-3

5. UCP Flames (IL): Laura Estrada and Tony Randolph – 2-4

6. Fierce Friends (IL): Josh Kain and Chris Beck , IL – 1-5

7. Boccia Warriors: Jimmy Miranda (OH) and Christina Talavera (IL) – 0-6

Team Results

Gold: Kansas Tornados: Andy Olivarez, (KS) Lizzie Flora-Swick, (KS) and AB Anwar, (CA): 2-1

Silver: Team Lakeshore (IL): Kenny Johnson, Chris Viau and Chris Sandoval: 2-1

Bronze: Team USA (TJ Hawker (OH), Luke Labas (IN), Cornelius Oatis (OH)

and Marck Harrison, OH) : 2-1

4. Nassau Thunderbolts (NY) Danny Dalton, Keith Haarmann and Rafael DeJesus: 0-3

National Boccia Championships: Day 3

Lizzie Flora-Swick and her quadruplet sister Hannah celebrating Lizzie's top ranked finish in the BC2 preliminary pool play.

Day 3 of competition involved more than 50 head-to-head matches in individual pool play. The top two finishers, decided by the number of games won, advance to Sunday’s medal rounds.

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC 1 Pool Results

BC1 Pool 1 competition was dominated by National Team member and former Paralympian TJ Hawker (OH). TJ swept Pool 1 play with four straight wins, outscoring his opponents 42-9. There was a three-way tie for the second place finisher. Former Paralympian Kenny Johnson (IL), 2011 National Team member Luke Labas (IN) and National Team alternate Chris Viau (IL) all ended up with two wins. The rules require that the tie-breaker be decided by point differentials. Kenny Johnson won the first tie-breaker with a point differential of +20 as compared to +3 for Luke and Chris.

Click here for complete BC1 POOL 1 RESULTS

BC1 Pool 2 was also dominated by a National Team member. Cornelius Oatis (OH), competing in his second National Championships, also swept his pool play with three straight victories. Andy Olivarez (KS) won the second spot to the medal round with two of three wins.

Click here for complete BC1 Pool 2 RESULTS

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC2 Pool Results:

BC2 Pool 1 play turned out to be a battle between two veteran players, Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS) and AB Anwar (CA). Both players had three wins and the head-to-head match up decided the difference between first and second. Lizzie had the upper hand today and won 3-1.

Click here for complete BC2 POOL 1 RESULTS

BC2 Pool 2 saw former National Team member Brigid Mason (IL) sweep the field for an automatic advancement to the medal rounds. Rafael DeJesus (NY) advanced by winning two of his three pool matches.

Click here for complete BC2 POOL 2 RESULTS

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC3 Pool Results:

The BC3 division has historically been the largest division at Nationals. This year was no exception. Eighteen players were spread across four pools. In Pool 1, National Team member Austin Hanson (KS) had little difficulty and chalked up four consecutive wins, outscoring his opponents 50-2. Second place in BC3 Pool 1 came down to a three way tie with Fawad Zakai (GA), Marie Smigielski (IL) and Candace Gregg (IL) all having two wins. Rules require that the tie-breaker be decided by point differentials, the difference between points for and points against. Fawad Zakai advanced to the medal round with a +17 differential.

Click here for complete BC3 POOL 1 RESULTS

Pool 2 play in the BC3 division had local favorite and Elmhurst High School alumnus Sam Williams (IL) pleasing the hometown crowd with four consecutive wins, outscoring his opponents 39-3. Mike Salerno (NY) advanced by winning three of his four BC3 Pool 2 matches.

Click here for complete BC3 POOL 2 RESULTS

The competition in Pool 3 ended in a three-way tie between New York teammates Howie Cohn and Charlie Fleisch and Dan Garringer (IL). Rules require the tie-breaker be decided by point differentials. In this case, Charlie Fleisch (25) and Howie Cohen (7) advanced to the medal rounds on Sunday.

Charlie Fleisch (NY) advanced to the medal round from BC3 Pool 4 and is one of five Nassau Thunderbolts playing on the final day.

Click here for complete BC3 POOL 3 RESULTS

In pool 4 National Team member Lee Lobmeyer (KS) dominated play with three straight victories. Mark Paramadani (NY) played strong with two wins and one loss to be the second player to advance to the medal rounds.

Click here for complete BC3 POOL 4 RESULTS

2011 National Boccia Championships: BC4 Pool Results:

Charles Brown, member of the Paralyzed Veterans Association, concentrates in the final game of the BC4 playoffs.

The BC4 division was the most recently added division to the Paralympic program and subsequently is the smallest division represented at the 2011 National Championships. Veteran player Patrick Elliot (KS) faced a rookie out of Florida, Charles Brown. Patrick took an early two game lead in the best of 5 series on day two of competition. Charlie bounced back on Day 3 and used a double overtime game to tie the series 2-2 to force a rubber match. In the fifth and final game, Charlie pulled out a 5-1 victory to win the series.

Click here for complete BC4 RESULTS

Day 4 of competition will include the medal rounds for Divisions BC1, BC2 and BC3.

National Boccia Championships: Day 2

Thunderbolts v. Lakeshore: The Nassau Thunderbolts playing Team Lakeshore in Team play. Team Lakeshore went on to win 8-2.

Day 2 competition started with the final two rounds of Pairs play and the final round in the Team Division. In the Paris Division, USA Pairs started the day with a perfect record, followed closely by the Nassau Thunderbolts and the Rolling Thunder, each having only one loss. In the Team Division, Team USA and the Kansas Tornados started the day even with two wins each.

Round 6 in Pairs play slated the UCP Flames against the Nassau Thunderbolts. The Thunderbolts continued their dominant play with a 10-0 win over the Flames. The UCP Fireballs went up against USA Pairs and was one team that was able to hold them to under 10 points but their offense was not up to the job and USA Pairs prevailed 8-1. In the final sixth round game, Fierce Friends faced the Boccia Warriors and recorded their first win of the tournament by a 6-1 margin.

BC3: Early competition in BC3 Individual Pool play.

In the seventh and final round of Pairs play Rolling Thunder faced USA Pairs and was the last team to have a shot at breaking their undefeated streak. The Thunder tested the USA squad in a close game, but lost by the score of 3-1. The UCP Flames took on the Boccia Warriors and won 6-1 and UCP Fireballs ended their tournament with a win over Fierce Friends, 4-1.

2011 BlazeSports America National Boccia Championships Pairs Results:

1. USA Pairs: Lee Lobmeyer (KS), Sam Williams (IL) and Austin Hanson (KS) – 6 -0

2. Nassau Thunderbolts (NY): Charlie Fleisch, Howie Cohen and Mark Paramadani – 5-1

3. Rolling Thunder: Mike Salerno (NY) and Fawad Zakai (GA) – 4-2

4. UCP Fire Balls (IL): Daniel Garringer and Candace Gregg – 3-3

5. UCP Flames (IL): Laura Estrada and Tony Randolph – 2-4

6. Fierce Friends (IL): Josh Kain and Chris Beck – 1-5

7. Boccia Warriors: Jimmy Miranda (OH) and Christina Talavera (IL) – 0-6

Click here for complete PAIRS RESUTS

The final Team game of the 2011 National Championships matched the Nassau Thunderbolts against Team Lakeshore. Lakeshore continued their strong play and won easily over the Thunderbolts, 8-2. The final exhibition game between the BC4 Team Spectrum and the Vanquishers was the closest match of the series. Spectrum edged out the Vanquishers 3-1 to sweep the four game exhibition series.

The Team competition resulted in a 3-way tie with three teams (Kansas Tornados, Lakeshore and Team USA) all finishing with a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. The rules require point differential (the difference between points for and points against) to be used in a tie breaker. In this case the Kansas Tornados had a point difference of +20 compared to +6 for both Lakeshore and Team USA. Since Lakeshore and Team USA were still tied with a +6 point difference the rules require the second tie-breaker to be points for. Team Lakeshore scored 20 point while Team USA only scored 19 points, making Lakeshore the second place finisher.

2011 BlazeSports America National Boccia Championships: Team Results:

1. Kansas Tornados: Andy Olivarez (KS), Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS) and AB Anwar, (CA): 2-1

2. Team Lakeshore (IL): Kenny Johnson, Chris Viau and Chris Sandoval: 2-1

3. Team USA: TJ Hawker (OH), Luke Labas (IN), Cornelius Oatis (OH) and Marck Harrison ( OH) : 2-1

4. Nassau Thunderbolts (NY): Danny Dalton, Keith Haarmann and Rafael DeJesus: 0-3

Click here for complete TEAM RESULTS

Austin Hanson, BC3 player and member of USA Pairs, prepares for a long shot during his final Pairs game. USA Pairs went undefeated in their six games, outscoring their opponents 43-2 to win the National Pairs Championships.

The lunch break on Day 2 marked the transition from Pairs and Team play to Individual play. Today’s lunch sponsor was Chick Filet of Wheaton, IL. BlazeSports staff greatly appreciated the chance to have some good old home cooking, this far from Atlanta.

Individual play is divided into division by class: BC1, BC2, BC3 and BC4. Based on the number of players in each class, the tournament is set up in a number of pools. The first round of play is within each pool. All players in a pool play each other once with points awarded for each win. The top two players within each pool advance to the playoff rounds. Individual pool play will conclude on Saturday with all playoff rounds being held on Sunday.

National Boccia Championships: Day 1

Competition in Paris and Teams play was the focus on Day 1 of the 2011 BlazeSports America National Boccia Championships. After a rough night of midwestern thunder storms and a power outage at the host hotel, teams were greeted to an outstanding facility at York High School in Elmhurst, IL.

First round competition in Team play saw the Kansas Tornados (Andy Olivarez (KS), Lizzie Flora-Swick (KS) and AB Anwar (CA)) beat Team Lakeshore (Kenny Johnson (IL), Chris Viau (IL) and Chris Sandoval (IL)) by the score of 10 to 4. Also playing in the first round was Team USA (TJ Hawker (OH), Luke Labas (IN), Cornelius Oatis (OH) and Marck Harrison, OH)) who dominated the Nassau Thunderbolts made up of Danny Dalton (NY), Keith Haarmann (NY) and Rafael DeJesus (NY) by the score of 13-3.

First round Pairs play had the veteran Nassau Thunderbolts Pairs team of Charlie Fleisch (NY), Howie Cohen (NY) and Mark Paramadani (NY) playing rookie Independent Team of Jimmy Miranda (OH) and Christina Talavera (IL). The Thunderbolts overwhelmed the rookies 16-0. Also in round one, local Pairs team, Fierce Friends (Josh Kain (IL) and Chris Beck (IL)) faced veteran players pairing up for the first time, the Rolling Thunder (Mike Salerno (NY) and Fawad Zakai (GA)). The Fierce Friends took an early 4-0 lead in the first end, but were scoreless for the remaining three ends and lost to the Rolling Thunder 7-4. The final first round match-up in Pairs had the local United Cerebral Palsy program’s two Pairs teams going head-to-head; UCP Fire Balls (Daniel Garringer (IL) and Candace Gregg (IL)) against UCP Flames (Laura Estrada (IL) and Tony Randolph (IL)). The Fire Balls had the edge in today’s face-off, winning 9-0.

Round two in Team play had the Kansas Tornados facing Team USA. This match up was the closest contest of the morning with only one point scored in each of six ends. Team USA just edged out the Tornados, 4-2.

Round two of Pairs play matched USA Pairs (Lee Lobmeyer (KS), Sam Williams (IL) and Austin Hanson (KS)) against Fierce Friends. USA Pairs schooled Fierce Friends 10-1. The Nassau Thunderbolts went up against UCP Fireballs and maintained their strong start with a 10-2 win. Rounding out the second round, Team Rolling Thunder played the UCP Flames and won 6-1.

After a break in the competition for lunch, the results of round three in Pairs include the UCP Fireballs beating the Boccia Warriors 7-3; USA Pairs with an easy win over the UCP Flames 22-0 and the Nassau Thunderbolts wining against the Rolling Thunder 6-1.

Round three in Team play saw the first upset of the day with Team Lakeshore beating Team USA 8-2. Team Lakeshore included two National Team alternates Chris Viau and Chris Sandoval and former Paralympian Kenny Johnson.


Round four in Team play matched the Nassau Thunderbolts against the Kansas Tornados. The Tornados ran away with it and won 16-0.

Round four in Pairs play included competitive games and blow outs with the UCP Flames over the Fierce Friends, 4-2; Rolling Thunder beating the Boccia Warriors convincingly 20-0 and in the battle of the undefeated, USA Pairs won in a very lopsided match over Nassau Thunderbolts, 11-0.

The fifth and final round of Team play on Day 1 had the Nassau Thunderbolts with a 10-2 win over Team Lakeshore.

The scores in the final round of Pairs play included the Rolling Thunder beating the UCP Fireballs 3-2. The Thunder were forced to score two points in the final end to pull out the win. Nassau Thunderbolts rebounded off their Round 4 loss to USA Pairs with a 5-0 shutout win over Fierce Friends. USA Pairs stayed undefeated beating the Boccia Warriors 19-0.

A last minute cancellation left the Vanquishers (Brigid Mason (IL) and Chris Ludwig (IL)) short one player for Team competition, so tournament officials arranged a series of exhibition matches against the BC4 Team Spectrum (Charlie Brown (FL) and Patrick Elliott (KS)) also short one player. Round on went to Team Spectrum 11-0. Round two and three was more of the same with Team Spectrum winning both games 7-1.

Day Two will include final rounds of both Pairs and Team play and the preliminary pool play in individual play. Thirty-eight players will complete for medals in four individual divisions.

Posted in Boccia, News |

Boccia Nationals Get Rolling in Elmhurst, IL

Boccia athletes at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

The 2011 BlazeSports Boccia Nationals kick off today at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. Athletes from all over the country will gather to compete for the national title in four individual divisions (BC1, BC2, BC3, and BC4) as well as BC3 and BC4 pairs divisions. In its capacity as the official governing body of USA Boccia, BlazeSports is excited to host this gathering of America’s top boccia talent for four days of spirited competition.

If you’re interested in learning more about boccia, check out the sport’s page on the BlazeSports website where we provide a primer on boccia’s rules, history, and more. And for some online fun, click over to Channel 4’s boccia video game.

Best of luck to all the competitors!

Posted in Blog, Boccia |