Shufflin' | Combined masters a complete success at Palmetto

March 25, 2014 

The weather was delightful, (no typical famous Palmetto rainstorms) and the competition was keen. Fifty or more spectators faithfully watching every move, it was a masterful Masters. Each player played 21 games, 3 with each opponent.

This week, we will run down the winners of the District Amateur Masters. Next week, we'll take a look at the winners from the annual Southwest Coast District Open Masters.

Winning the Men's District Amateur Masters as one of four new competitors from Tidevue Estates was Tony DeLuca. A snowbird from Windsor, Ontario, with 14 wins, Tony an Italian immigrant to Canada in 1959, worked for Chrysler Canada for 35 years and has only shuffled for four years. Tony has what it takes to compete and looks forward to escaping snow each year to pursue his chosen sport.

Placing second was Don Webster, also of Tidevue and a veteran of the Canadian Army Royal Canadian Engineers as a topographical surveyor, doing this work for more than 40 years. He now has a home in Peterborough, Ontario, west of Ottawa. This was Don's first year in serious tournament play. He appreciates all the sponsors, volunteer workers and weekly partners who make shuffleboard what it is.

Third place was captured by Jack Welty, also of Tidevue and Dubuque, Iowa. Married to Betty for 55 of his 72 years, grandfather of 13 and great-grandfather of five, Jack feels honored and thrilled to compete with this great group of guys in the 2014 District Amateur Masters.

Paul Johnson of Sun City Center had to leave due to a situation in Canada during the Masters, so he and Alternate player Tom Wixson of Palmetto shared fourth place. Paul played in leagues in the West Coast District before coming to Sun City Center. Retired since age 45, he enjoys a challenge and offers a challenge in several fields. Tom Wixson resided in Michigan, worked at Owens-Illinois in Toledo, Ohio, for 37 years, and in later years traveled the world as a company troubleshooter. Tom loves to hunt and fish, the latter especially with the grandchildren he and Sandy have.

Lowell Williams received fifth place. Lowell and Debbie and Mo and Jill DeBruyne were both husband and wife couples who played many tournaments this season. The Williams are from Circleville, Ohio. Lowell worked at the Kenworth Truck Factory for 34 years and winters at Palmetto Mobile Home Park. He has only shuffled for a couple of years but seems destined for a great future in this chosen sport.

Mo DeBruyne won sixth place. The DeBruynes summer in Perry Sound, Ontario, and winter at Sugar Creek resort, belonging to Bradenton Shuffle Club. Their offspring live in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, so they travel some. Mo only began to shuffle this year when Jill needed a partner, and he states that he was amazed at how many nice people play shuffleboard. The camaraderie of the shuffleboard fraternity has kept his mind off golf.

Gary Hartzler placed seventh. Gary has shuffled in the North Shore League for six years. Originally from Gaithersburg, Md., Gary knows computers, plays golf and helps people lose weight and stay in shape.

Eighth place was won by Phil Krick. Phil, of Tidevue Estates, has shuffled for only two years. He worked for ADM at Clinton, Iowa, retiring in 1994. He was involved in the first production of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States. Father of five, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of six, he paraphrases Will Rogers by saying "I never met a shuffler I didn't like."

Jill DeBruyne won first place in the Ladies Amateur Masters. She and Mo came to Sugar Creek Resort in 2008, but she has only shuffled seriously for three years. The DeBruynes will both be State Amateurs come October. Jill admits shuffleboard can become addictive. She appreciates her many friends and thanks all who helped her along the way.

Second place goes to Tammy Heppeard of Palmetto, daughter of Phyllis and the late Ron Gochenour. From northwestern Ohio, Tammy loves having become a snowbird for eight months. Tammy has two children and three grandchildren. Known in Ohio as a "Harley Girl," she loves shuffleboard and the wonderful friends with whom she competes.

Eleanor Bart placed third, having only played in tournaments this season. A snowbird from Peterborough, Ontario, she winters in Tidevue Estates. Born in British Columbia, her father was in the Canadian Air Force so she lived all over Canada, and became a registered nurse. Her eight grandchildren are the light of her life, and much of her life has involved helping the elderly. Eleanor looks forward to the 2014-15 shuffleboard season.

Placing fourth, Ruby Flickinger came to Tropic Isles from Michigan. Having shuffled for four years, Ruby will be a State Amateur in October. She plans to play in Michigan this summer. She played the Masters in memory of her brother with whom she started shuffling, but cancer took his life last year and it was his wish she succeed.

Carol McLeod of Monroe, Mich., plays out of Bradenton Shuffle Club and took fifth place. She was amazed to enjoy shuffle so much after Jill DeBruyne got her started at age 76. She anticipates her first year as a State Amateur after three years as a District Am.

Sixth place goes to Debra Williams of Palmetto, who also moves up to State Amateur. Bob Comford was her mentor, and she has enjoyed all the players, regarding them as very good friends.

Connie Crawford, seventh, a retired R.N. from Springfield, Ohio, winters at Palmetto. She has three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Shuffling outside the park only since November 2013, she now loves the game and her many friends.

Betty Sparks, eighth place, winters at Golf Lakes and returns to Plainwell, Mich., in Summer. Shuffling on and off for six years, Betty was widowed by Birl's untimely passing last year. She feels blessed by her shuffling friends.

Mary Pierce, Alternate, was thrilled not to be needed, as she can try to qualify next year as a player. Mary is from Maine and is a shuffler at Piney Point.

Notable

• Ten places of 32 in the Masters were ties settled by skill shots. After each match each player shot four discs to see how many points they could accumulate. One tie was settled by one point difference at the end, 100 to 101. Details are important.

• Sue Daidone advises that Yellow and Black will start at 8:30 a.m. April 30 and continue Monday, Wednesday and Friday through September.

• Lloyd Schmidt of Terra Siesta served as a "Court Tech" at the Masters, but now is hospitalized with a heart condition.

Other tournament results

• FL P-25, March 17 at Lakeland, 53 teams. Men Main: 1. Ron Nurnberger-Larry Taylor, 4 Freeman Gingerich.

• FL A-21B at Clearwater, 15 teams. Consolation: 1. Wolter Bootsma-Bill Comford.

Future tournaments

• Tuesday is the second day of FL P-26 Tournament of Champions at Clearwater.

• March 31 is the first day of FL P-22 Florida Masters at Holiday Park in the West Coast District, north of Clearwater.

Happy shuffling.

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