By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

BIG SKY – If you don’t need a half-bisque, are ready on your baulk-lines, regularly score an Irish peel and can peg-out, this is the time of year you’ve been waiting for.

On Aug. 11, Big Sky nonprofit Women in Action is holding its eighth annual croquet tournament at the Big Sky Golf Course. From 3-7 p.m., participants will vie for a trophy and bragging rights, while supporting underserved rural families in the community.

“We didn’t want a traditional fundraiser; to have a nice meal and listen to music,” said WIA Executive Director Lisa Beczkiewicz. “We knew folks in Big Sky are competitive by nature. We wanted an original idea.”

That it is. Teams consist of six players tallying individual scores and the winner of each round advances to the next, according to Beczkiewicz. With three total rounds, the tournament follows traditional rules and encourages traditional attire: white dresses and light or tan khakis and shirts. And don’t forget your sporty hat.

In addition to croquet – a game made famous in England after purportedly developing in Ireland around 1851 – attendees can participate in a silent auction and listen to live bluegrass. Money collected from entry fees and the silent auction will fund local health, education and social programs, said Beczkiewicz, who earned a degree in social work from Indiana University in 1993.

Founded in 2005, WIA seeks to provide affordable and accessible healthcare and education programs as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling services to families in Big Sky. The group partnered in February with Bozeman nonprofit Thrive to hire an Ophir School parent liaison, Lori Swenson, who helps parents build relationships with their kids’ teachers.

For her part, Beczkiewicz plans to continue WIA’s growing community involvement by attending to families’ financial needs so they can “thrive, grow and be healthy.”

“If it fits in our mission statement and benefits the community, we’ll make it happen,” she said. “We are women in action.”

Last year, the croquet tournament saw between 80 and 90 players, and raised more than $18,000 for the group’s community programs. WIA is encouraging tournament participants to sign up by Aug. 9. Call (406) 209-7098 for tickets. For definitions and more ridiculous croquet terminology, visit croquet.org.uk.

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A guide to croquet jargon

Rush: To cause another ball to move to a position of tactical advantage.

Dolly rush: An easy rush – a straight rush with the two balls less than a foot or so apart.

Duffer tice: A tice positioned, usually a yard or so north, and a touch east, of Hoop 6, laid on the second turn of the game. A Duffer tice may be laid several yards from the described position. The opening is named after Duff Matthews.

Irish peel: A stroke, which attempts to peel one ball while the striker’s ball runs in the same hoop.

Half-bisque: An extra shot given to another player, wherein that player cannot score.

Peg-out: Occurs after a ball has scored all of its hoops, and then hits the peg.

Baulk-lines: Starting lines in a croquet match.