Eagle Scout learns new game in building bocce court

Eagle Scout learns new game in building bocce court
Will Navidi, Be Piersall, Kenny Speth (in hat), Scott Piersall (in glasses), Joseph Cuchiara, Mason Navidi, Bryce Kirkwood, James Mickler, Mike Kirkwood (turquoise shirt), Ryan Vogel, Ryan Spinelli, Robert Spinelli, Joe Vogel, Rob Mickler

When James Ranieri, 2018 president of the Italian American Club (IAC) in Mandarin, reached out to the North Florida Boy Scouts Council asking for a Scout to build a bocce ball court at his club, the timing was perfect for Mason Navidi of San Jose.

Navidi, who has been a Boy Scout for 12 years, started his scouting experience as a Tiger Scout in 2007 at Lakewood United Methodist Church. Since crossing over from Cub Scouts, he has been a member of Troop 136 out of All Saints Episcopal Church in San Marco. He had already completed all his required merit badges and was in the process of discussing ideas for his Eagle Scout project.

Vincent Zamatarro, Mason Navidi and James Ranieri
Vincent Zamatarro, Mason Navidi and James Ranieri

Although Navidi’s name sounds like he might be of Italian heritage, his name is Persian, and he had never heard of the game of bocce. Navidi worked closely with Ranieri in spring 2018 to plan the size and design of the court as well as the benches. After taking measurements and acquiring construction materials, Navidi began to build the court in July 2018. 

Although there had been a court at the club years ago, the land was overgrown with weeds and required clearing out and leveling. Working over four different weekends, Navidi and the Scouts within his troop cleared the land, leveled the ground, took careful measurements, installed a border of railroad ties, put down weed paper and filled the court with sand. They also built three benches for spectators alongside the court, from a design approved by the IAC. Later Navidi and his father, Will, a troop leader, stained the benches.

Mason Navidi, Bryce Kirkwood, Ryan Spinelli and Will Navidi
Mason Navidi, Bryce Kirkwood, Ryan Spinelli and Will Navidi

“Mason has been a great leader in our troop, rallying other boys to assist with some of the steps. He designed and built a wonderful bocce ball court that will serve the Mandarin IAC for many years to come,” said Rob Mickler, Troop 136 committee chair.

Navidi said he was grateful for the experience of learning to build something from scratch. “It was interesting to learn about the planning and construction process as well as a new sport,” he said. “I enjoyed it very much.”

Ranieri and current IAC President Vincent Zamatarro presented a commemorative plaque to Navidi during a luncheon of authentic Italian baked ziti for the Scouts in his honor at the IAC March 31. A permanent plaque was also placed on the middle bench alongside the court and troop members were introduced to a game of bocce. 

Joseph Cuchiara, Mason Navidi, James Mickler, Ethan Luker and Joel Luker
Joseph Cuchiara, Mason Navidi, James Mickler, Ethan Luker and Joel Luker

“While I was president, I decided to take action on getting a bocce court re-built as we had discussed for it for several years,” said Ranieri. “That’s when I thought it would be a good project for a Boy Scout. When I met with Mason, I found him to be a bright and respectful young man, and I was sure that this would be displayed in his Eagle Scout project, which it was. It was my pleasure to present him with a plaque and cook a meal for the troop members and the families who helped. I am sure that it will be enjoyed by members and guests for years to come, and I would like to thank Mason and Troop 136 for their hard work and dedication,” he said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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