Juanita Harlow National Amateur Mixed Doubles Shuffleboard Tournament: Article by Neil Simpson, Ambassador for Heartland Games at South FL State College
The 13th annual Juanita Harlow amateur shuffleboard tournament was held at the Avon Park Seniors Activity Center on Dec. 4. Ms. Harlow, now 90 years old and living in Joplin, Missouri, was a highly respected member of the Avon Park Shuffleboard Club. She overcame extreme difficulties with hip problems to excel at the game she loves.
Tom Clayton, President of the Seniors Activity Centre for the past year, welcomed shufflers from Avon Park, Sebring, Melbourne, Lake Wales, Winter Haven and Port Charlotte. Pic on left is of President Tom VP Larry Harvey. Tom gave a little history lesson, pointing out that Avon Park is the oldest town in Highlands County and that the clubhouse at the Activity Center has quite a history. It started off at the Avon Park Bombing Range, was moved into town and used as the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse during the 1920s and in 1936 was relocated to its current spot on Main Street. Clayton asked for a moment’s silence in honor of the club’s past president, Ralph Day who passed away in early 2017 and then went on to talk about Juanita Harlow.
Larry Brown, a member of the Avon Park club and a resident of Fairmount Estates, is a state representative for the Central District, one of seven shuffleboard districts across Florida. He wasn’t shuffling in the tournament as he is awaiting two new hips. He did speak to the membership about the declining participation in amateur tournaments and said the State Board of Directors is working to find solutions to the problem. He knows that for many, it is much easier to stay within one’s own park and play with and against one’s friends, but he is hopeful that more shufflers will venture out and participate at tournaments at the Sebring and Avon Park clubs.
Larry announced two upcoming pro shuffleboard tournaments and reminded amateurs that they are always welcome to play in pro tournaments and often do very well in head to head competition with the pros. The pros, however, cannot play in amateur tournaments.
On January 2, the state’s oldest sanctioned tournament, the Orange Blossom, will be held at the Sebring Rec. Center and on January 15, Sebring will host the state Red Line Hall of Fame tournament. This prestigious event attracts large crowds and is rotated between Districts annually. With larger centers such as Lakeland and Zephyrhills in the Central District, it was quite a coup landing the event in Sebring.
The Juanita Harlow Tournament was sposnored by the Avon Park Club and Stan McCormack, editor of the online newsletter The Shuffler. The Tournament Director was Cheryl Conkle of Pioneer Creek R.V. Park in Bowling Green.
Phil Martin a winter resident at Leisure Lakes in Sebring was playing in only his second tournament in Florida. He is the reigning amateur doubles champion in Michigan. Greg and Belinda Jones hail from Kentucky but winter in Melbourne Florida. They checked the list of shuffleboard tournaments within a two hour drive of Melbourne and are trying to get to as many as possible. Ruth Stewart of Winter Haven is a Canadian who reports that back home in her small town of Ingersoll, Ontario they just got use of the local hockey arena this summer and had 16 courts which were filled for tournaments.
Bob Labranche made the journey over to compete in the hopes of winning the coveted National Pin that is awarded to the winner of a National event such as this. Gene Tomlinson of Whisper Lake poses by the Avon Park Sign. Also shown are Don and Joan Brisbane of Desoto Park in Sebring.
Story and Photos by Neil Simpson, Ambassador for Heartland Games at South FL State College. Posted by Stan McCormack. 2017 12 06.