Joe Rodriguez has been bowling since he was 10.
When he moved to Virginia Gardens from New Jersey, he was alone and needed to meet some people. That’s when he spent an evening with the Sunshine Athletic Association, known today as the Miami Rainbowlers.
Rodriguez, 55, has been league president for the last 10 years. This season, the Miami Rainbowlers have seven teams, with three bowlers on each.
“We’re small, but we’re chugging along,” Rodriguez said. At one point, there were 30 teams of four players on each. That’s 100 players more than what they have today.
“Some people lose interest, some pass away or move to Fort Lauderdale or have just gotten older,” Rodriguez said. “When you’re in a league you have to come every week.” The Rainbowlers’ season is 34 weeks long, with dues at $18 a week.
In Wilton Manors, nearly 20 different teams play four different nights of the week. From the Bear Bowl on Sundays to the Thursday Early Birds, seasons are 32 weeks.
In Miami, Joe Rodriguez and his Rainbowlers start the season the Monday after Labor Day and continue through the Monday before Memorial Day. Minus a few weeks for the winter holidays and spring break, Rodriguez said most people stay for the season. But there are always some stragglers.
“Some people bowl for a little while, then quit and come back,” he said. “[But] this league is full of nice people. It’s not very competitive. You can have a 200 average or a 95 average.”
The Rainbowlers belong to the Greater Miami Bowling Association, but also operate under their own league bylaws that are voted on every September. Along with Rodriguez as president, there is also a vice president and secretary. Dues cover the bowling costs, secretary fees and the $7 prize fund. At the end of the year, the Rainbowlers host their season finale party, where they award a first place winner $150.
Despite its small size, Rodriguez enjoys his group,” Rodriguez enjoys his group.
“We see each other for 34 weeks. It’s like a family. It’s like coming home.”
Visit MiamiRainbowlers.com for more information on the Miami Rainbowlers. Or visit ManorLanesFL.com for information on gay bowling leagues in Wilton Manors.