By Mitch Traphagen
Perhaps it is no surprise that the Sun City Center Shuffleboard Club, with 113 members, is a large organization. Shuffleboard and seniors seem forever entwined. But the kind of shuffleboard played in Sun City Center isn’t your grandfather’s shuffleboard. With members that are state and national champions and beautifully refurbished courts, it is a game of challenge, skill and strategy, a game that anyone of any age would enjoy. And in Sun City Center, the doors to the club are open with plenty of help for those interested in getting started.
On Friday, the club held their first quarterly day at the courts event, which kicked off with a short business meeting, followed by Hungry Howies pizza and hot wings with a helping of delicious cake for dessert, donated by club member Ursula Joyal. The meeting was topped off with a raffle of prizes donated by local merchants, including Sonny’s BBQ, The Sun Shine Cafe and The Old Castle Restaurant. Classic Cuts, Suzie Vong’s Beauty Shop, and PNC Bank also donated prizes.
Afterwards the club members took to the courts for a variety of unusual games, each testing the skill and strategy of the players. Newcomers to the game weren’t left out by any means; they were coached and encouraged, often ultimately finding success. In one game, magic appeared to happen as a bowling pin was stacked on top of three disks, with the player required to knock out the stack of disks while leaving the pin standing upright. It all happened too quickly for even the eye to catch, let alone a camera. Another game required disks to be shot between the legs of a wooden Easter Bunny, another was like bowling with disks and yet another involved a bungee cord stretched across the court.
The event was held in part to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the introduction of shuffleboard to Florida and the United States.
According to club members, newcomers to the game should expect to benefit from the help of the many experienced club members and could easily be playing at the top of their games within a year. Some newcomers require only weeks. But the game doesn’t get old, because it never ends up the same. With experience comes proficiency and strategy, making the game even more fun and enjoyable the more it is played.
“They are having fun but they are learning something in the way of a skill,” said club member Dorothy Wagasky of Freedom Plaza. “There is a strategy involved.”
She should know — she is herself a professional player and one-time national champion.
The club currently plans to hold similar events four times per year. In addition to such events, the club also participates in league play.
The Sun City Center Shuffleboard Club is open to all members of the Community Association. Dues are $10 per year. Residents of Kings Point may also join although such memberships only allow play during the frequent, official SCC playing times on the courts.