2002-07-06 / Sports

RBVL Players Head South For Volleyball Picnic

By Joe McGivney
RBVL Players Head South For Volleyball Picnic By Joe McGivney

RBVL Players Head South
For Volleyball Picnic
By Joe McGivney

For the second year in a row a small contingent of Rockaway Beach Volleyball League players dipped below the Mason-Dixon Line into the Washington, D.C. area for a weekend volleyball extravaganza. Former Rockaway great, Major Tom Pellinger, was on hand Friday night to greet the travelers and to join in the fun. Unfortunately, a neck injury prevented Tom from playing any ball and improving on his 2001 mark of 10-1. Fortunately, he was able to organize a party at Murphy's Pub in Old Town, Alexandria where the Irish songs and good company welcomed the NYC visitors to the very hospitable South. Lovely!

Rising early on Saturday, 6/1, preparations were made for the long day ahead. Three sandwiches, four cases of beer and 40 pounds of ice seemed to be the right mix for four Rockaway veterans. (You do the math.) A scenic 45 minute ride landed the troupe at the world famous Bogart Farm in the Virginia countryside. Volleyball players filled the fields only a stone's throw from the rolling ridges patrolled by Moseby's Raiders during the Civil War. Mark and Julie Bogart hosted the event and treated everyone to high level volleyball, terrific food and many cold, carbonated, wheat based beverages until the wee hours of the morning. When a tournament runs from 2 p.m. until 4 a.m. you know the emphasis is on fun!

A dozen nets were set up on the sprawling lawn for different levels of play including Open 2's, Open Women's 2's, Open Co-ed 2's, Open Reverse Co-ed 2's and Rockaway 2's. The cows and chickens observed the action from close range and seemed entertained by the high quality volleyball being played. The featured match of the day pitted two long time (old) rivals in the Rockaway 2's Division. Joe Abbracciamento (McGivney) and Tommy Dalgish won the championship 15-11 over Rocky and his niece, Tall Virginia in the ultimate grudge match. The turning point in the game was a sparkling play when Joe and Tom successfully dove to save a drop shot and while both were lying prone on the ground they watched Rocky hit the ball right smack into the net. The final nail in the coffin came a short while later when Rocky unleashed his patented smash only to see Tom calmly stick out one arm and return the ball right off the back line for a winner. It was no surprise that these two teams met in the final but it was quite a surprise that Rocky's deadly jump serve and Virginia's youth and skills did not prevail. The cagey warriors, Joe and Tom, dug deep to pull this one out.

The most spectacular shot of the tournament went to host, Mark Bogart for the second consecutive year. His perfect foot dig / set return of a hard driven spike easily won out over Rocky's reverse flipper, outstanding though it was. Mark was also responsible for many innovations at the picnic this year. A dance floor was constructed out of plywood and was accentuated by a lighted disco ball. During the afternoon a local country music band wailed away with the songs of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams while the players hammered away on the courts. Mark also provided tractor rides for the kids and camping facilities for the adventurous.

As usual, center court was set up under the floodlights in the horse-riding ring for as much night play as the fanatics could stand. Miscues increased as the inebriation level rose but the caliber of play remained surprisingly solid throughout the evening. What better way to cap off the event than a trip to the Bogart Hot Tub, which was sensibly sized for a dozen people? There, a nightcap of Brooklyn Lager was poured and the proper pronunciation of the word "w-a-t-e-r" was discussed ad infinitum. The hot tub taught us that sweet, innocent Bethany from Maine has the vocabulary and syntax of a Manhattan longshoreman. It also taught us that Rocky has the largest feet of anyone not named "Hulk" or "The Animal".

Maybe it's time to say a few words about the man, the myth, the legend -- Rocky. A man whose vertical leap barely cleared a two-ply bathroom sheet, a man whose sandals had to be quarantined for odor violations, a man who splashed Julie's most expensive cologne all over his face while touring the Bogart home! The myth who promised to train the steady Marsha after she shanked a serve (the only ball she misplayed in 8 hours)! The legend who donned "The Mask" Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the legend who prepared a Maryland Blue Claw Crab and steak gourmet dinner, the legend who turned on his boom box at 2:00 a.m. and listened to "Unchained Melody" 25 times in a row because he pushed the repeat button in error but never noticed it!

The evening mercifully concluded with an exciting Ping-Pong tournament in which Joe outlasted his volleyball partner, Tom, in three overtime games for the championship. Special thanks must be given to Mark and Julie for their gracious hospitality and to the omnipresent Tracy for all of his help. Hopes are high that the Virginians will travel North this summer to try out the Rockaway beaches, bars and restaurants as well as to tour the Big Apple. Either way, everyone is looking forward to the 2003 picnic on the farm.

Additionally, for anyone who needs a volleyball vacation fix look into The Digs, a huge tournament in Jamestown, VA. (website - http://www.thedigs.net/). You may find yourself taking a volleyball excursion, too.


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