Monday, August 19, 2019
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20190116 GAO Shuffleboard 1126“Taking the right shot is the most important strategy in shuffleboard competition,” says Ed Yauchzee, the coordinator for the Golden Age Olympics events on Casa Del Sol MH/RV Park’s 20 courts in Donna.

“But first you have to practice what you are shooting at on the shuffleboard court,” he added. That is what many have done in getting ready for the competition that began with the McAllen Parks and Recreation Department’s singles event on Jan. 7. The singles contest continues until Jan. 18.

Yauchzee and his wife, Joanne, have been helping with the tournament for amateur and expert shufflers at Casa Del Sol for the past 10 years. He pointed out they receive a lot of help from park residents in rewaxing the discs to make for easy sliding on the court. Almost all shufflers bring their own sticks for pushing the discs, much like golfers have a favorite putter.

20190116 GAO Shuffleboard 1120The Yauchzees, who were from Leroy, NY, but have been full-time residents for the past five years, are in the expert division and have been winners in the Olympics mixed doubles. Ed has also been a champion in the men’s singles and doubles. He admitted he used to be pretty intense in competition, but he’s more relaxed now.

Joanne said they got their start with shuffleboard 15 years ago when neighbors invited them to the Casa Del Sol courts. “We laughed,” she said, “That’s for old people.” But they found it a lot of fun and stayed with it.

Ed said shuffleboard requires skill and strategy along with the practice. Most Winter Texans “shuffle” nearly every day, with tournaments held a couple of days in many parks. Competition involves 20 frames with each player using four discs each time. It helps to win the first match, as a loss puts the contestant in a different bracket, requiring more wins to move back up into the top brackets, he noted.

Being in the Olympics was a bit extra special this year for Betty Hall, formerly of Pineville, Missouri, who just had knee replacement surgery. The first year full-time resident now at Snow to Sun RV/MH Park in Weslaco, noted the knee was a bit tender with just getting to return to play the previous week.

She is one of the oldest women at 84 years of age competing in tournaments twice a week before the surgery. She is in the expert division, having achieved singles championships in a national meet held at Fun N Sun Resort in San Benito, a state tourney at Snow to Sun and locally for those over 75 at Victoria Palms Resort.

20190116 GAO Shuffleboard 1110“I achieved everything I wanted, so now I just have fun,” Hall said. “Her husband, Venis, also playing, is an expert too and holds the distinction of being the oldest shuffler at age 97.

Darold Niemeier, from Lenexa, Kansas, is at the other end of the competition having shuffled only two years. The current resident at Texas Trails RV Resort in Pharr, is in his first year of playing in the Golden Age Olympics. He shuffles just about every day in his park here.

“I enjoy it,” Niemeier said, “You make a lot of new friends.” In fact, he was competing against one of them from the park, Melvin Scott, who hails from Milan, Missouri, and has been shuffling for eight to 10 years.

20190116 GAO Shuffleboard 1112Three years ago, Niemeier rented a place for a month with his wife Kay. “We fell in love with the area,” he added. “There are more activities than anyone can do.” He has been into pickleball, beanbag contests and dancing with the wife. “It keeps us young,” he concluded.

Most of the competitors one talks to are found to be highly enthusiastic about the sport. That’s one of the reasons most parks have shuffleboard courts as part of a wide variety of activity choices.

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