Zephyrhills hosts State Singles Shuffleboard Championship: By JOE POTTER News Reporter
People from far and wide attended the State Singles Shuffleboard Championship held Monday in Zephyrhills.
A total of 182 players participated. The event was held at the Zephyrhills Shuffleboard Club’s court in downtown Zephyrhills and at the Betmar Shuffleboard Club’s court just west of the city.
The championship, referred to as “the crème de crème” by one player, was followed by a Hall of Fame dinner Monday evening at John’s Steak and Seafood, 38364 State Road 54, Zephyrhills.
Some of the participants in Monday’s Championship had 20 or more years of professional experience while others had been pros for only a couple of years.
Stan Williamson from Daytona Beach has been playing shuffleboard for at least 20 years. He has been playing at the state and district levels for about 15 years.
“I am good friends with Henry Strong and Earl Ball,” Williamson said of two of Zephyrhills’ better-known professional shuffleboard players. “We have been friends for a long time.”
“I met Earl Ball down here about 11 years ago. He was only an amateur then and he asked me to play with him in the Pro division because I was a Pro and we did it all. We won the Nationals. He became instant Pro. He won the Tournament of Champions in the Singles in the Pros and the Pro Masters. He was a good partner all those years that I’ve had with him and I’m still with him and it’s 11 years.
“We’re both in the Hall of Fame. Earl has won I bet you about 12 Nationals and I’ve won about five or six and we play together most of the time” Williamson said.
Earl Ball qualified for membership in the Hall of Fame in five years.
Henry Strong earned the distinction of Central District Master in 2009. He has been playing shuffleboard for eight years and has been a professional for four years. He has lived at Forest Hills Estates in Zephyrhills for 14 years. Strong had played shuffleboard for the first time about 30 years ago at a motel in Florida while on vacation. He did not take up shuffle boarding until about six years after he moved to Zephyrhills. “I like the sport. It’s a very good sport,” Strong said.
Jerry Stannard of Winter Haven said he hopes to be a two-time State Singles Shuffleboard Champion. He won the state singles two years ago. “So I’m back trying it again,” he said. He has been playing shuffleboard for nine years and has been a professional for six years. He has played in the Masters shuffleboard championship for the past three years.
Bill Lohbusch of Leesburg has been playing shuffleboard since 1996. He has been a professional since 2000. Lohbusch has previously played at both the Zephyrhills and Betmar shuffleboard courts. He said he goes to Beall’s Outlet and patronizes other area businesses when he is down here. “We like the area,” Lohbusch continued.
He and his wife became interested in shuffle boarding while living in a predominantly Airstream community in Melbourne. “I went down (to the shuffleboard courts) first and then my wife went down two years later. She made out better than I did. She’s a Hall of Famer now and I’m still carrying her stick,” Lohbusch said, laughing.
Phil Insinga of Leisure Village in Stuart was playing shuffleboard at Betmar for the first time on Monday. He has been playing shuffleboard since 2002. He has been a Pro for two years.
He became interested in playing shuffleboard by going down and watching people play after he had retired, Insinga said. He joined a league and then started going to tournaments. The Hall of Fame dinner scheduled for Monday night drew him to Zephyrhills, Insinga said. He had attended a Hall of Fame dinner two years ago and enjoyed it so we came back this year for the Hall of Fame induction and dinner, Insinga concluded.
Joe Potter attended the Banquet and we will have more from him later. Many Thanks Joe. Stan and Alf > and All Shufflers.