By PENNY FLETCHER
Couples like Barbara and Joe Mignogna find that doing things together sometimes involves more than having dinner or watching TV.
The Mignognas, who have lived in Sun City Center since 2009, won the pairs division competition in lawnbowling at the Tampa Bay Senior Games 32nd year event in 2012 and plan to enter again this year.
They’re definitely the team to beat.
Neither had ever lawn-bowled before moving to Florida. In fact, neither had played much sports since their high school and college years.
“Years ago, I played baseball, basketball, softball and golf — some competitively,” but I had never heard of lawn bowling until we came down to visit friends here in 2008. We liked it well enough to rent in 2009 and by 2010 had bought a house and moved here,” Joe said.
This will be the first year Joe has not entered the golf portion of the Senior Games as well.
Married 45 years this month, the couple has three children, one in Riverview, and the other two out-of-state, in Seattle and Los Angeles, all of whom spent their growing up years in Greensburg, Penn., where Joe and Barbara lived before moving to Florida.
Joe was in banking and Barbara was the manager of an energy company.
“I started lawn bowling because it was something I could do with Joe,” Barbara said. “I only do pairs, and I only bowl with Joe.”
Joe, however, is very involved with the Sun City Center team and is currently its president.
“Our trainer was Gretchen Miexner but she doesn’t train anymore. Now we work with Dian Thomas,” he said.
“Besides the fact we can do this as a family there are other great social aspects to lawn bowling,” he continued. “We get to meet people from other clubs, even from out of state and out of the country.”
They meet a lot of Canadians and Brits, where the game is very big, he continued. “We’re going to host the 2014 Bowls USA National Tournament in November 2014.”
There are about 160 members of the club at this time. “Once you are 90 (years old) you don’t pay any dues,” he explained.
The two volunteer time with the Security Patrol and Barbara also dances and takes Latin dancing classes, while Joe does some volunteering with the Men’s Club Lifeline project.
Active in their homeowners association, he is president and she is chairwoman of the Architectural Committee.
“I also serve as president of the Suncoasters, which is the woman’s lawnbowlers club. We do a lot of fun things there too.”
Meanwhile, Mike and Brenda Perkins are also training for the Games.
They have lived in Sun City Center since 2004 and both were still working when they moved to the community.
“I was a superintendent for the Parks and Rec there for 31 years in New Hampton, N.Y.,” Mike said. “I had to tell people what to do but I didn’t get much chance to do it.” Because of that profession, he was always involved in running sporting events, and has a love of games.
“I had to sit at a desk and watch others. Now I can play,” he said.
Brenda, who has been the director of risk management for hospital systems, said they have been married 30 years and have five children that are spread all over the States from Georgia to Maryland and one is in Germany.
Mike was a tennis player all through school and did cross country and basketball. He kept up his tennis afterwards, and played whenever he could get away from his administrative job.
“I didn’t do sports at all until I got here,” Brenda said. “I started in mixed pairs to be active and to be his companion,” she said.
First they started with pickleball, but attended a free lawnbowing clinic in 2007 and decided it was better suited to them.
By 2008, Mike was the champion of the local club and is now the president of the Southeast Division of Bowls USA which includes seven states.
Online sign-ups for this year’s Tampa Bay Senior Games have already begun at www.tinyurl.com/observer-senior1 and questions may be answered on the website at www.tinyurl.com/observer-senior2 or by calling Mary Clements Fowler at (813) 635-3519.
The games feature two weeks of competition in various activities, such as basketball, billiards, bowling, cribbage, dominoes, golf, hobby show, pickleball, pinochle, swimming, table tennis, talent showcase, tennis, and track and field. New events this year include, softball and corn hole.
The Tampa Bay Senior Games are hosted by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, Hillsborough County Family and Aging Services, City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department, and Temple Terrace Leisure Services and will take place at various parks and pool locations around the county (depending upon the sport) locations of which are available on the website.
Anyone who is 50 or older before Dec. 31 of the current year is eligible to enter. They will be held Oct 7 through Oct. 18.