By Steve Lee
ZEPHYRHILLS — Joan Cook’s favorite color last weekend was green. The Betmar Acres resident is just the second woman in the 100-year history of the Florida Shuffleboard Association to receive a coveted green jacket as a 1,000-point scorer in tournament play.
“It feels fantastic, the thrill of a lifetime,” she said during a recent ceremony at the clubhouse adjacent to the shuffleboard courts. “I will wear it for many years to come.”
Dorothy Wagasky, who authored a book on shuffleboard, was hardly surprised that Cook ascension up the shuffleboard rankings.
“I saw it coming, because she was so dedicated to the sport,” said Wagasky, who after defeating Cook in a tourney in Lakeland years ago told her to go back to Zephyrhills and mix up her game by playing with the men.
Cook, 73, joins St. Petersburg’s Mae Hall in select company. Hall set her record-setting mark more than 30 years ago. Aside from the two women, four men have scored 1,000 points. One of those men was Zephyrhills’ Glen Peltier, who earned his green jacket in 2006.
Cook did not take up the sport until she and her late husband Richard, who owned a restaurant in Ontario, retired to Florida. Fueled by her competitive nature, she joined the Betmar Shuffleboard Christmas Club in 1995. She proved to be a quick study and soon found success pushing discs with her cue.
Cook, whose 1,000th point came in a November tourney in DeLand, moved up from amateur status to the professional ranks in 1992 and has won eight national, three international and three Florida State Masters championships.
Earl Ball, a shuffleboard champion who is within 200 points of the 1,000 mark, often partnered with Cook in mixed doubles, winning countless tourneys in-state and out-of-state. He labeled Cook “a savvy veteran” and when she became too emotionally distraught to read her speech, Ball read it for her.
Art Carlen, Ball’s mentor, said Cook “was the one who taught me some of the shots I take today.”
Numerous people in the crowded clubhouse stood up and lauded Cook or shared memories of their playing days with her.
Henry Strong, labeled “the world’s best player” by Ball, marveled at Cook’s unorthodox delivery.
“I said, ‘Joan, how do you even hit anything,’” he recalled. “She said, ‘How do you think I got all these points.’”
Added tournament director Glen Monroe, “Joan has always been a perfect lady. Congratulations, well-earned.”
Others, who simply observed Cook play, were complimentary as well.
“I think the presence of all the people here in your honor is a real tribute,” said Stan McCormack, who pens a shuffleboard blog.
A trying time in her career came with the 2009 passing of her husband — they were married for 45 years — with friends dragging back the five-time Hall-of-Famer, which comes each time a player tallies 200 points.
“Certainly we appreciate everyone who went out of their way to make sure she did it,” Ball said. “Joan, we’re so proud of you.”
Comments by Glen Peltier, Holder of the Green Jacket.
My run up to 1000 points was very thrilling as it took many years of playing top shuffleboard; getting good partners and doing much traveling. There never was a mention of a green jacket so no fanfare prior to the “happening”; no anticipation; no anxiety!! At the masters several years ago at Oakside Park, Jim Allen presented me with the green jacket. It was a totally unexpected surprise to me!!
I have kept playing and traveling with no intention of stopping. My game has slipped some but I still enjoy playing and teaching the game to new people. I have had great partners and could never have won as many tournaments without them. I’m 78 years old and many people have played into their 80,s. I take it one week at a time.
I know Joan has worked hard at this game. She has paid her dues. She certainly deserves the green jacket. She has traveled many years on her own, often fighting health problems. I believe the game has kept Joan going. I believe shuffleboard has kept many people going. 1000 points does not come easy. I truly never felt it never made me be the best player. There was always someone playing better at the time.
My hat is off to Joan for making it. Glen Peltier.
If you have not seen anyone sporting such a jacket it is no surprise; there is only ONE and the proud owner is Glen Peltier!! Both the Green Jacket and the White Jacket are donated by The Allen R. Shuffleboard Co; the White Jacket in recognition of earning the right to play in the Florida State Masters; the Green in recognition of achieving 1,000 lifetime points.
I don’t think I have to share with you that points do not come easily in the FSA (Florida Shuffleboard Assn.) It takes a great deal of skill and a great deal of determination; AND even with the above attributes, it takes many years applying these skills throughout the State of Florida on a weekly basis.
One female shuffler is very close to earning the distinguished honour of wearing the Green Jacket!! That woman is Joan Cook, who with her win in Hawthorne while partnering with Arlene Guerrini, came within 5 points of reaching the magical 1,000 points!!
Speculation is rampant as to the date of attaining the one thousandth point!!! Will she wait until the State at Betmar on 2014 10 27?? I think not; it would be “nice” but the risk is just too high!! Joan with her partner will be “going for every point they can get”, be it at PO3 partnering with Ellen Davis, PO4 partnering with Stan Williamson, or subsequent Tournaments. Whenever or wherever it happens, it will be A MOMENT TO REMEMBER FOR SHUFFLEBOARD!! I am betting that it will happen soon, very soon, and Joan will have good reason to CELEBRATE!!
Stan McCormack. 2014 10 12
Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations!
I am absolutely thrilled to offer my sincere congratulations to you on achieving the 1000 points required to qualify for the coveted GREEN JACKET.
It makes me very proud to see the 2nd person, EVER, who has earned the honour to wear the GREEN JACKET, is Canadian!!! YEA!!!!! Great job!
You are a great inspiration to us who are learning to play the game of shuffleboard. Thanks for being a good role model and for sharing tips and pointers with us along the way.
Enjoy this huge achievement, Joan.
Dick would be so proud!!!!!
THE BEST LADYS TEAM EVER???
According to Glen Peltier, who’s been around for a long time, that’s true! Joan Wheeler and Joan Cook are the best ever! They play many tournaments together, but not all. They won nine first places together this year, enough to make everyone a bit envious, some a bit jealous and even a few down right mad. There’s no denying their success, as Wheeler picked up 71 points this year for a career total of 730, a fierce competitor on the court, who gets her athletic ability from her days as an outstanding skater in her youth. But there’s a different side of her off the court. She voluntarily handles all the get-well cards for the FSA. Is the 1st to hand out a card of Congratulations to someone who has reached a cherished goal. She’s very artistic, creating many of the certificates, as well as table favors we see when we attend Shuffleboard festivities. Dedicated to her grandson, 10-year-old Derek, She’s sends part of her winnings from each tournament to him for his future car fund. And of course, behind every successful woman stands a man. In this case a mountain of a man, husband, Clarence, who spoils her rotten by tending to her every need and making sure she gets to every tournament.
Joan Cook set a modern day record of 79 points this year, breaking Wheelers record of 77, giving her a career total of 544 points. Also a fierce competitor, she gets her ability from being an outstanding bowler in her younger days. Known as the best board clearer in the game, she has rounded out her game by adding a devastating board and kitchen game to her repertoire in the last year and continues to improve. Joan is a dedicated Shuffleboard player as evidenced by stick-to-activity. She’s plays nearly every day of the year. Husband, Dick is her biggest supporter, once having designed a costume for her to appear on the TV show “Let’s make a Deal” where she was not only picked to play but went for the “big door” and won a set of wheels, two motorcycles. Dick freely gives up his love of golf; he is an outstanding golfer with four holes in one in his career and his wood working shop where he creates and paints all of the caricatures we’ve seen around the circuit to spoil Joan rottener by being with her at each tournament.Story by Earl Ball, Senior Staff Writer for THE SHUFFLER. 2004 03 31