Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

All hail the Bocce Queen of Timber Pines

SPRING HILL

Throughout Timber Pines, Annie Faliero is known as the Bocce Queen. She might rightly be dubbed the Bocce Queen Mum. She's 93.

Faliero doesn't weigh a lot more than 93 pounds — diminutive as a bird, but a savvy old bird. She captains the Easy, Easy bocce team, which will roll for the Timber Pines championship Monday and Tuesday at what's known among 10 community teams as their Super Bowl.

They've been pursuing the honor since the bocce season opened in October. Easy, Easy eliminated its competitor in the semifinals two weeks ago, by a score of 12-4, after winning its quarterfinal match 12-2.

Faliero says she picked up the game, "oh, I don't know, 15 to 20 years ago."

Her pursuit came on the heels of winning trophies in traditional indoor lane bowling in her native Clarence, N.Y., near Buffalo. She bowled with a 16-pound ball.

"I think that's what ruined my shoulders," she said, noting recent pain-alleviating cortisone shots. And in lane bowling, "I had such a hard slide." For that, she underwent two knee replacements.

Sixteen-pound-ball bowling was out of the question when she and her late husband moved to Hernando County 24 years ago. After watching residents play bocce in Timber Pines, Faliero said, "I just wanted to get into anything athletic."

She took up the Italian version of lawn bowling, as well as golf, but had to give up the latter just over a year ago because of physical constraints.

"Of course, Mr. Arthritis is no friend of mine," she pointed out.

Yet, she perseveres. Of bocce league play, she noted: "Every Thursday, you know you've got a place to go."

"You meet so many wonderful people — the comradeship, the friendship," she said of her devotion to the game.

Supporting that claim, in a practice round Thursday, team member Sandy Rodgers on the sideline cheered, "Dead-eye Dan!"

Faliero had tossed out the pallino, the target ball, slightly larger than a golf ball. Then she effortlessly and perfectly bowled her bocce ball, a sphere of about 3 pounds, somewhat larger than a softball, which kissed the pallino. The throw was a point in the making if a competitor didn't get closer to the target or knock aside her bocce.

Faliero says bocce is more a game of strategy than stamina or strength.

"All challenges are where the pallino is. You shouldn't go past it. It's better to stay in front of it so you can block the opponent's ball. Sometimes they measure it by a hair."

Indeed, as teammate Rodgers, 67, cast a bowl, a volunteer referee called out: "By a whisker."

Captain Faliero watched without response as Rodgers edged her out. It's what she expects of her team members.

"Playing with her, you better be on your toes," said team member Herb Rodgers, 71, husband of Sandy. He's pleased when an opposing player steps on the court, saying, "Oh, no, Annie again."

Sandy Rodgers concurred.

"She is deadly in her aim," she said, "and other teams quake when she takes aim at the pallino."

Said teammate Dave Walsh, 67 and "the baby" of the quartet: "Playing with (Faliero) is a wish come true. She's an inspiration to all of us."

The men maintain Faliero doesn't so much coach as advise. She doesn't criticize their errant bowls, but suggests how to improve. And she doesn't care so much whether the team wins or loses, but that team members try their best.

Faliero has readied herself for this week's tournament finals. Having struggled with several health issues over the winter that she has now seemingly overcome, last week she bowed to the need for medication for her shoulders. The joints are bone against bone, she said. She accepted painful cortisone injections. A referee joshed that he might disqualify her for being "on drugs."

Faliero concedes she's got a reputation.

"Annie's still the champ, but …," she drifts off, then muses: "I used to be."

Contemplating the upcoming finals, she takes a deep breath and adds: "I'm stubborn."

As she talks courtside, Faliero lets a teammate know she's paying attention as he throws the bocce during practice.

"I'm watching," she calls out.

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

All hail the Bocce Queen of Timber Pines 04/10/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 10, 2010 11:54am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa's bid for fifth Super Bowl means secret and expensive promises to NFL

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Before Tampa is officially named the host of the 2021 Super Bowl, local organizers have 90 days to convince NFL owners the city can meet certain conditions.

    What are they? That's top secret.

  2. Meet Batman's 8-year-old sidekick, whose super power is vanquishing a brain tumor

    Human Interest

    First, he vanquished a brain tumor.

    Now, Ty Verbanas is preparing to help Batman take on a collection of evil villains.

    Zachary Hurst and TJ McDonnell, playing Alfred the butler and Batman,  welcome 8-year-old Ty Verbanas to the Florida Batcave.
 To inspire Ty as he faced brain surgey, a Florida nonprofit that delpoys super heroes promnised to train the boy as the Caped Crusader's sidekick.
  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Watch a man steal a lawn mower by driving it off the lot in Clearwater

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — Police are looking for a man who drove a lawn mower straight off the Quality Motors lot on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard last week.

    Clearwater police are looking for a man who drove a lawn mower off the Quality Motors lot on May 18. (Clearwater police)
  5. Ex-daughter-in-law accused of $80,000 shopping spree with family Sam's Club account

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Plenty of people have in-law horror stories. But perhaps not as vexing as the one Thomas and June Simpson tell.

    Police said Mishay Simpson shot Andrew Noll in 2014 after he entered her Davis Islands home. An investigation found the two had been having an affair. Now she is accused in a civil lawsuit of charging $80,000 to her ex-husband's Sam's Club card, which was linked to his parents' bank account. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]