Stan Speaks: Did you ever wonder who does the Organizing of the Heartland Senior Games? Not just Shuffleboard, but Bowling, Bridge, golf, Pickle Ball, Euchre, and Tennis!! It is that man at the top of the page, Ambassador Neil Simpson!!
Neil Simpson Speaks: Singles and Doubles Shuffleboard
On Tuesday, the largest group of shufflers ever to compete in the Heartland Games shuffleboard tournament met at the Avon Park Seniors Activity Center. Donuts were provided before the action got underway, compliments of the Avon Park Dunkin Donuts. Coffee, donuts and lunch were all served by the dynamic duo of Nancy Sorko and Karen League. Shufflers had a choice of ham and swiss or turkey and cheddar subs for lunch.
In the morning, men competed in seven age groupings from 60 to 64 all the way up to 90+. The ladies played in 5 age brackets from 60-64 up to 80-84. Most of the singles competition was finished by noon but the largest brackets, men’s 70-74 and 75-79 continued play after lunch.
Medal winners in singles play were:
Gold: Jacques Poitras, Barry Leibold, Lloyd Tipsword, Chuck Slupe, Tom Stonecash, Bob Zalis, Leo Clement, Gloria Tipsword, Nancy Singleton, Joan Brisbane, Ethelene Nash and Kay Hermiston.
Silver: Bruce Shidler, Vern Phenix, Francis League, Ray Hermiston, Mary Temoke, Alberta Kiss and Rita Holmberg.
Bronze: Walt Pickerell, Paul Strong, Joe Castiglia, Don Fredley, Ruthann Paulin, Fran Breckenridge and “Little Pat” Suhr.
Doubles play took place in five age categories. Unlike many sports, shuffleboard doubles has teams with two women, two men or a man and a woman.
The doubles medalists were:
Gold: Jacques Poitras/Max Bonkowski, Ruthann Paulin/Fran Breckenridge, Joan Brisbane/Don Brisbane, Chuck Slupe/Bob Zalis, Tom Stonecash/Dean Shoup
Silver:Walt Pickerell/Dudley VanMeter, Jack Harpin/Paul Strong, Joe Castiglia/Al Culberson, Kay Hermiston/Ray Hermiston
Bronze: Nancy Singleton/Lou Faulkner, Linton Gotham/Wayne Rose, Ethelene Nash/Jim Allard
It was great to see a large turnout from some of the local parks. Sebring Village had 11 shufflers, Adelaide Shores 8, Tanglewood 6 and Reflections 4. It only takes one keen player in a community to stir up interest and get fellow shufflboard enthusiasts to register for the Heartland Games.
The tournament was very capably run by Dan Noble of the Sebring Recreation Club with a great deal of help from Gary Sorko, Gale Harvey and Larry Harvey of the Avon Park Shuffleboard Club.
Next year’s Heartland Games shuffleboard tournament will take place at the Sebring Recreation Club on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
The local Games are one of twenty one qualifying events for the Florida Senior Games to be held in Clearwater in December. All of Tuesday’s medal winners have qualified to play in the state games. If they do well in Clearwater, they earn the right to represent Florida in the National Senior Games which will be contested in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June, 2019.
The Heartland Games, organized by South Florida State College, are in their third decade. With the support of the Highlands News-Sun, Cohan Radio’s Morning Dave and Chris Pinson and many others, the Heartland Games continue to grow each year.
Events remaining on the 2018 Heartland Games schedule include euchre, pickleball, bowling, tennis, table tennis, mah jongg, cycling, track and field and tennis.
The games are sponsored by Newsom Eye, Edward Jones/Alan Holmes, Turner Furniture, Drs. Thakkar & Patel, VITAS Healthcare, Florida Hospital and the Alan Jay Automotive Network.
There is lots of shuffleboard action at the Avon Park courts and the shuffleboard club wants all shufflers to know that they are always looking for new members. It costs just $20 per year. If you buy a membership in the coming weeks, it will be good through October 1, 2019.
Interested in learning the game or testing your skills with others? Beginners Starlight Shuffle is open to the public every Monday at 6:00 p.m. Equipment will be provided. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the club members gather at 9:00 a.m. for “scrambles” followed by lunch for just a buck.
Sunday Fun Shuffle takes place at 2:00 p.m. weekly alternating between Hoss Collar and Head Pin.
Story and photos by Neil Simpson