The Perils of Perryville.
Stu Cassell Speaks: On August 9th my wife and I competed in the Southeast Missouri Senior Games in Perryville, Missouri.
This venue is known for two primary things; extremely fast courts, and great pies at the P
Yesterday was exhausting. I went to sleep at 10:30 PM and woke up at 2:30 AM. I fell back asleep and woke up again at 3:40 AM. I drifted back to sleep and then my wife Rose came into my room and said “It’s 4:30, time to get up.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, that was the fastest hour I ever slept.” But it wasn’t. Her alarm went off an hour earlier than she thought she set it. It was only 3:45 AM. I had only been asleep just a few minutes.
I didn’t get back to sleep. At 4:00 AM I showered and got dressed. I fed the dogs early and gave them each an extra half scoop of food because we knew we wouldn’t be home from Perryville until after 6:00 PM.
We left at 5:30 AM and I stopped to top MR’s gas tank.
The Perryville parks and recreation center is approximately an hour and a half drive from our home in suburban St. Louis. Check-in was at 8:00 AM and we had arranged to pick up Rose’s partner Elly at 6:00 AM.
We made good time and were a little early to check-in and found a table to sit down at. A little before 8 a woman came over and said she’d check us in and bring us our goodie bags.
After that we went into the gym and started practicing.
This was my second year competing at Perryville, and my wife’s first. I find the courts extremely difficult and sometimes frustrating. First, they only have two speeds – super fast and stop.
They are so fast that you have to adjust your delivery to the point where you’re barely pushing the disk. Otherwise, you will surely go past the court. It’s so extreme, that it feels like you’re playing in slow motion. The closest thing I can compare it to is curling. That’s the speed of the disk movement.
If there are no beads in a spot on the gym floor your disk just stops there. To compound the problem the air conditioning blowers move the beads off the court so you constantly have to reapply them.
In one game I played, we added beads 5 times in one frame because my opponent’s disk kept stopping 10 feet from his launch over and over again.
My extreme fatigue showed up to haunt me several times throughout the day. The first time I was applying beads and was on auto-pilot. Our club has a jar of beads with a cover over the lid. I picked up one of the jars at Perryville and removed the lid and it wasn’t like ours. It didn’t have a cover and I dumped half the jar onto the court. It elicited a collective gasp from the people around the court watching the match. From me, it elicited a chant, “I am an idiot! I am an idiot.” At least that got a laugh.
The second time being overly tired caused me pain was at the beginning of my last match of the day. Each of the players at the other end shot a disk. Thinking it was their practice lag I began to remove the disks. They immediately started yelling because they had already done the lag and this was the start of their game! I had actually stood at the lag line when they did their practice and real lag, and removed their disks just 5 minutes earlier. Yes! That really happened and I was that tired that I immediately forgot it! “I am an idiot! I am an idiot.” This time I only chanted it in my mind. How embarrassing!
The people in Perryville couldn’t be nicer, and that includes all of the teenagers that volunteered to officiate the games. That being said, they’re all inexperienced when it comes to shuffleboard.
In our first doubles match, the put us against two of our friends, Glen Vanmatre, and Pat Oligschaelger. Glen and Pat were in the youngest age group because of Pat’s age. While we were told they were combining those in their 50’s with those in their 60’s, I had just turned 70 and my partner Bob Jennerjohn is 71. I had actually written above my age on my application: “Turning 70 August 3rd” to call attention to the fact that I was moving into the next age category. They missed that. It may or may not have made a difference in our final standings in doubles. In any event it was a massacre. I had two frames where I ended up in the kitchen and Glen scored multiple disks. I kept track – individually I was responsible for a total of 49 of the points the other team had, and this in an 8 frame doubles match.
It was so bad, that at the end of the game when I put myself in the kitchen again, Glen kindly knocked me out on purpose. His team was already ahead over 50 points. Yikes!
We won our next match. The third match boiled down to the final two shots by Bob and I. We had the hammer and one of us needed to score and neither of us did. In the 4th game the other team was ahead by 6 points and we were in the same situation. I had the last shot of the game and this time I scored for the win. We got a bronze medal.
All the other games were done 45 minutes ahead of us and everyone had gone to eat lunch. My sweet wife and her partner had finished their games almost an hour earlier and patiently sat while we played so we could all go to lunch together.
We went to the Park-et, a local family run café known for their delicious pies. Everyone in the St. Louis Shuffleboard Club agrees that half the reason to compete in Perryville is for the pie at the Park-et. Guess what? None of us got pie. We were all too stuffed from lunch.
When we got back I lost my first game to Cliff Harvey, another club member and one of my best friends. I had so much trouble on that court that I only scored once and Cliff removed my disk and stuck his with the hammer.
I won my 2nd game, and lost my 3rd game. I was ahead by 6 points and my opponent had the hammer and scored a 7 to win by 1 point.
Meanwhile the star of the family was my wife Rose. She and her partner Elly Buhyan beat Mike Bruce and Steve Nesseth. Mike is one of the best players in our club. Steve is good too. That was a surprise victory.
Rose and Elly won a silver in doubles, and each won gold in singles.
After dropping Elly off at her home we arrived back at our place at around 6:30 PM, almost 15 hours after waking up that morning. I was exhausted to say the least. Our two dogs Jack and Tango were thrilled to see us. They’re used to being fed much earlier.
This was the last shuffleboard tournament of the year for us and certainly a memorable one in many respects, both good and bad. I’ll probably have nightmares about dumping the beads and those super drifty courts.