The Heartland Senior Games are fast reproaching and the event coordinators are eager to get started. The registration cutoff for golf, euchre, shuffleboard, table tennis, horseshoes and pickleball is Jan. 18.
Registration forms may be picked up at any campus of South Florida State College (Avon Park, Arcadia, Bowling Green, Lake Placid) as well as from Legacy Bicycles in Sebring, the Avon Park Shuffleboard Club, the pickleball courts at Tanglewood or the Sebring Recreation Club. Registration forms may also be downloaded from the website at www.southflorida.edu/heartlandgames.
Golf: Saturday, Feb. 2, Sebring Golf Club
The Senior Games golf tournament was last held at the Sebring Golf Club in 2017. When asked which course they wanted to play this year, the 2018 golfers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a return to the Sebring course. On hand to welcome golfers on Feb. 2 will be club pro Kim Darrow and assistant pro Travis Kennedy.
Darrow has been head pro for 11 years. She started golfing when she was 7 but is now devoting more of her energy to running and competing in triathlons.
Kennedy has been working at the course for 4-and-a-half years. He started in the cart barn and has worked his way up. He honed his golf skills at Heartland Christian but now finds that he doesn’t have time to play as much golf as he would like. Kennedy loves working at Sebring Golf Club. He says the members are great and that the City of Sebring treats him well.
Euchre: Monday, Feb. 5, Tanglewood
Once again, the Senior Games euchre tournament will be held at Tanglewood. Marjorie Nelson has stepped forward to coordinate the event for the first time. She will be ably assisted by Colleen Schenking who has helped out the past few years.
Colleen is an avid euchre player. She manages to get in at least three games a week at the Tanglewood clubhouse and loves the friendly competition. Schenking notes that when helping with the Senior Games tournament she has been impressed by the cooperation of the players and the fun they have competing against others from various parks throughout the Heartland.
Shuffleboard: Tuesday, Feb. 6, Sebring Recreation Club
This year the shuffleboard tournament has moved from Avon Park to Sebring. Despite the fact that Dan Noble is no longer shuffling, he was quick to offer to serve as this year’s tournament director. He will be assisted by George Rosema, who is chair of the Sebring Shuffleboard Club as well as being the first vice president of the Sebring Recreation Club.
Each year there is a great turnout of avid shufflers from across the Heartland who always have a good time meeting old friends and making new ones in friendly competition.
Table Tennis: Wednesday, Feb. 7, Sebring Recreation Club
For years, Crystal Lake Club in Avon Park has hosted the table tennis tournament. With the enthusiastic response last year, it was anticipated that the event might draw many more competitors this year and would need to be held in a larger venue. With that in mind, Bruce Lydy of Crystal Lake Club agreed to run the 2019 tournament at the Sebring Recreation Center.
Lydy started playing table tennis in high school and was addicted by the time he was in college. He knows that many people will say that they aren’t good enough to compete. To that he says, “Nonsense, come out, give it a try and you are sure to come back year after year.”
Horseshoes: Thursday, Feb. 8, Lee Palmer Courts, Sebring
Horseshoes was one of the events in the early years of the Heartland Senior Games and is being reintroduced for 2019 with Larry Detro of Buttonwood Bay taking charge of the tournament which will be held at Sebring’s Lee Palmer Courts. Detro is President of the Sebring Shuffleboard Club.
The Highlands County Horseshoe Club was established in 1978 with the first courts where the library now sits. In 1983, the courts were moved to Max Long Field by the YMCA. In 1996 those courts were closed to make room for a soccer field. Lee Palmer donated $15,000 and the City of Sebring $10,000 to establish the 18-court facility known as the Lee Palmer Complex at Pomegranate and North Pine across from the Sebring Rec Center.
The Highlands County Club has players from Buttonwood, Camp Florida, Lake Bonnet Village, Lakeside Village, Relections, Sunshine RV and Tanglewood. In Arcadia, teams from Craig’s, Arcadia Village, Toby’s and Big Tree compete twice a week. Pioneer Creek in Bowling Green also has a very active horseshoe program.
Pickleball: Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9 and 10, Tanglewood
Pickleball, the nation’s fastest growing sport, has attracted the largest contingent of players to the Heartland Senior Games year after year. Each year during the past decade more communities have introduced the sport or added additional facilities. In 2017 Adelaide Shores in Avon Park built a four court facility and late in 2018 Buttonwood Bay in Sebring opened three more courts.
Tom Stadler, a pickleball addict, has been in charge of the Games’ tournament for several years. Assisted by his sisters, Betty Schleis and Mary Kloster, and helped by a large contingent of volunteers from Tanglewood, Stadler will keep play moving right along through the two days of competition.