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Local man is bocce ball medalist


john jack pdsNASHVILLE – A local man and long-time paper carrier for The Nashville News recently took two bocce ball teams to victory at the Special Olympics Summer Games for the second year in a row.

John Jack Lepkowski did not plan to obtain not only one, but two gold medals during his time at Harding University in Searcy last weekend. While both wins can be equally chalked up to his skill and devotion to the game, it seems as though fate had a hand when, through a fluke, he was chosen for a spot on a second team.
Lepkowski, who was representing the Howard County Children’s Center in both instances, explained that a fellow player injured his ankle, leaving what should be a two man team one member short.
“Glenda York said, ‘pick a number between one and 100 and I picked 20 so I got the spot,’” Lepkowski related during an interview Tuesday.
The lucky number earned Lepkowski multiple moments of glory, and best of all, allowed him to participate even more in the game he loves.
“I like the game,” he remarked. “It’s a lot of fun and you get to meet a lot of interesting people.”
The athlete has only been participating in bocce for two years, but has won state championships during both.
He attributes his success to natural assets and plenty of practice, all of which not only enhanced his ability but instilled the confidence in him that he needed for success.
“See, I’m a tall person, so that really helps, because you see, I play it like I’m just bowling,” Lepkowski said, going on to note that he practiced as much as he could even though the heavy rainfall of late put several kinks in his practice schedule.
He later added, “I knew I was ready to play and ready to get it done.”
With great success comes great sacrifice, however, and Lepkowski has already discovered a struggle that fame often brings.
“The girls won’t leave me alone now,” he expressed. “It’s only going to get worse if I keep getting my picture made, but I feel great.”
Lepkowski and the other victors’ medals were presented by the North Little Rock Police Department.
“I am proud of what I accomplished,” the champion said.
Lepkowski also told The News that he plans to play bocce next year and lead his team to the championships once again because he is trying to do things while he’s “still able”.
“I may not look it, but I am a middle-aged man, and I want to do things like bocce before I can’t do them anymore,” he stated.
Lepkowski has done work for the Howard County Children’s Center, where he “does pretty much anything” they tell him to, and The Nashville News since 1999. He was promoted to news carrier three years ago.
“Working here is just fun,” he said. “I love it here.”