Pauline Speaks: Having so much free time on my hands I find this has become a time of reflection. When I began shuffling competitively approximately 6 years ago, I never imagined the impact shuffleboard would have on my life nor the extensive part of my life shuffleboard would become. Looking back on my life I now realize how fortunate and blessed I have been over the years. My high school years gave me a passion for sports and competition. As an adult I continued playing volleyball and softball, attempted golf (I was awful) and bowled 3 times a week and my social life revolved around the sports I played and the friends and acquaintances I made along the way. At age 50 I began having health issues resulting in tendons and ligaments breaking down without related injury. I had suffered numerous broken bones from sports injuries in the past, but this was occurring spontaneously. For 4 years beginning at 50 years old my mobility was dependent on crutches, wheelchair, or braces on both legs from my toes to my knees. I was then given the diagnosis that I would end up in a wheelchair permanently at some point in time. It was then I decided I would do everything I could to prevent this from happening. My friend and surgeon who had performed 3 surgeries on my feet in 6 months recommended that I stay as active as possible for as long as possible.
When I first came to Florida as a snowbird in 2010, I began shuffling on a social level in the park where I lived. At first it was 1 day a week, then 3 days a week and casual tournaments in the park. It was at the Polk Senior Games held at Lakeland where I first learned of the existence of shuffleboard clubs. I joined Lakeland Shuffleboard Club the following season.
I played as an Amateur for 2 years, a State Amateur for 1 year and 3 years as a Pro thus far. I was fortunate to have qualified to play both the District and State Masters but more importantly I have met many shufflers who have become close friends. I’ve had the opportunity to play with some of the best shufflers including Diana Morrison and Earl Ball who became my mentors. A sincere thank you to each and every one for the lessons I learned either through victory or defeat.
Sometimes we do not know what we have until we lose it. This is how I feel about shuffleboard. Up until a few weeks ago I was practicing 3-4 hours every day with one of my regular partners. Then COVID-19 changed our lives and we were under a stay-at-home order. What we once took for granted was gone. It now seems like months since I shuffled. I miss shuffleboard and seeing these friends more than I imagined I would, and I now know how much of my social life revolved around the game which I grew to love.
I believe when this crisis passes, we will all become more appreciative of what we have in life, more tolerant of our differences, and treat others with enhanced understanding and kindness. In what we feel are the worst of times there are always many things for which we should be thankful. Family, friends, and health are amongst the most important. Let’s try not to lose sight of the larger picture and maintain faith that this too shall pass!