Fire departments sit down for friendly game of volleyball

Jun 5, 2023

The Wareham Fire Department hosed the Onset Fire Department in a three-game volleyball match on Monday, June 5, but Onset didn’t take its defeat sitting down... or did it? 

The fire departments faced each other in three games of chair volleyball, a modified version of the sport played entirely while sitting down, at the Council on Aging.

Before the games, Council on Aging Director Sharon Rice listed the rules: “No spiking. You must keep at least one side of your body on the chair at any time. You can cheer, but please keep it G-rated.” 

“It was a good time,” Wareham Fire Chief John Kelley said. “It’s for bragging rights for public safety.”

Workers from both fire departments played alongside community members while spectators snacked on cake and popcorn. 

The final scores of the three games were 15-6, 15-3 and 15-10. 

Joe “Papa” Salerno, whose family owns Salerno’s Function Hall on Onset Avenue, introduced chair volleyball to the Council on Aging. He discovered the sport while he was in Florida — and offered his skills to Team Onset. 

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “A lot of people can participate.”

Kelley said that “great leadership” led Wareham to victory, but that “it was a team effort.”

“Remember the scenes from ‘Rocky,’ when he was training?” Joked Town Administrator Derek Sullivan. “That’s what Wareham Fire was doing.”

Team Wareham agreed that Kelley’s daughter Savannah, herself a call firefighter, was the MVP. 

“Everyone is so close together, so it’s easy to work together and reach out to hit the ball,” Savannah said. “It’s definitely not easy, so you have to give [the players] a lot of credit.” 

Another parent-child pair played on opposite sides of the net. Onset Fire Department dispatcher Catherine Giannelli went up against her daughter Allyson Bonin, who played for Wareham. 

“I think I did good,” Giannelli said. “I don’t think I got ‘em all, but I know I scored a couple when I served.”

She had her own explanation for why Onset lost the games.

“Sometimes the ball bounces in different ways,” she said, “and we can’t hit them, you know?”

Bonin said it was “amazing” to play against her mother. 

“We’re all about the competition,” she said. “For her age, she did good.”

She said that last part with Giannelli’s coaxing. 

The Wareham Fire Department will play the Wareham Police Department in chair volleyball at the Council on Aging at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 12. Whoever wins that game will return to the Council on Aging to face a team of senior citizens at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 26.