Jerri Werner is nothing but focus as she prepares to send her disc across the court at the West Center shuffleboard courts in late August.
A small but spirited contingent of shuffleboard aficionados squared off at the West Center last Tuesday morning. The foursome at the courts on this late August morning include current club president Bob Lisec and longtime members Jerri Werner, Leo Lucas, and his wife Janette. (Green Valley is in AZ).
All four have spent countless hours perfecting their shuffleboard skills in preparation for the club’s seven-team fall league, which begins in late October.
Lisec, 76, picked up the game while living in Green Valley seasonally. He dedicated himself to the art of pushing the perfect disc after moving here full time six years ago.
Lisec got hooked on the sport’s strategic focus, which helps older players keep up by knowing how to deftly maneuver their discs to gain an edge over their opponents.
“It’s competitive and it’s social,” Lisec said. “And it gets you up in the morning and gets you going. It keeps you mentally sharp, because you are competing against others. And winning is fun, but the social part of it is great as well.”
Game of skill
The Green Valley Recreation club typically plays three days a week once more of its members return to town in the fall, with league play on Saturdays. It also holds practices on Tuesdays and pickup games on Thursdays at the West Center. In addition, members also play at the Abrego South and Desert Hills centers.
Werner, who has played shuffleboard since 2006, said many underestimate the game, writing it off as a sport for the elderly.
“I think shuffleboard to some people is an old people’s game, and all you do is shoot the disc here and there,” Werner said. “But there’s a lot more to shuffleboard than that. There’s a lot of skill involved, and it’s just a fun game.”
Both Leo, age 83, and Janette, 79, fell for the game after moving to Green Valley from Nebraska in the late 1990s. Janette even served as the club’s president for two years in 2003 and 2004, and still has an active role with the group.
The club also has a 13-team spring league, which runs from February until late March. Janette said the leagues are perfect for shuffleboard players of all skill levels.
“We have people from their mid-50s to their mid-90s playing the game,” Janette said. “It isn’t a physical game, but it is a mental one once you learn to play. And we do have classes — an A class, a B class, and a C class — so we try to make it a level playing field for everyone.”
Tactics & benefits
Leo, who worked as a professor in Nebraska, said he enjoys how tactical the game of shuffleboard is.
“My favorite thing about shuffleboard is the mental aspect of the game,” h said. “You’re there and you want to outthink the guy you’re playing against. So it’s a challenge, and to master this game takes years, but you can learn the basics in a few weeks.”
Werner added that sport’s low equipment costs make it the perfect activity for those on a budget.
“Another great thing about shuffleboard is that you don’t need to buy anything to play,” Werner said. “All the equipment is provided by GVR at the centers. You don’t have to wear any special clothing or shoes to play. You just have to show up and you’re ready to go.”
The four Nebraskans said that over the years, they have enjoyed meeting new people through the club, and they enjoy the end-of-year banquet held for club members.
“We’ll always play a game then stop, take a break, drink coffee and chat, which is nice,” Janette said. “Then you play another game and play another person each time, and this is how friendships start.”
How it’s played
The Green Valley Shuffleboard Club is GVR-sanctioned, with about 100 active members. The club’s exact origins aren’t known, though Lisec said he’s found club trophies dating back to the early 1970s.
The group originally played on the old courts behind the East Center, and still plays on one of 56 courts in Green Valley.
Werner said the game’s popularity has fallen a bit of late because of the plethora of recreational options in Green Valley, but the club’s still doing well overall.
Lisec noted that the club will hold lessons on Mondays this fall and spring, in addition to an open house that he hopes will increase membership numbers.
“We’re going to invite people to come and see how the game of shuffleboard is played,” Lisec said. “We want to show them that it takes more than brawn, it takes strategy and mental prowess to succeed out here.”