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Lee County shuffleboard gets under way

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Dec 2, 2020

Chuck Wilson, president of the Lee County Shuffleboard Club, competes in a club tournament at the North Fort Myers Community Park on Saturday. CHUCK BALLARO


Everyone is doing their part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and that goes for the recreational leagues throughout North Fort Myers and Lee County.

The Lee County Shuffleboard Club, located at the North Fort Myers Community Park, is among those making sure its members, many of whom are at the highest age risk of contracting the virus, stay safe.

The league cancelled the rest of its season in March and the courts were closed until May 23, with only 12 people allowed to play at a time, reopening to larger capacity when the state allowed it.

On Saturday, a small group of shufflers came to the club for a small tournament. The first thing you noticed was that all the players were socially distanced and playing on only odd or even numbered courts.

They all wore masks, which is a requirement, and since the courts are also outside, it added another layer of protection.

It was also a smaller group, since those from Canada haven’t made the trip south this year and a few others just don’t feel it safe enough to play. Numbers that were well into the 200s are now near 80.

Chuck Wilson, president of the Lee County Shuffleboard Club, said the club is going ahead a little shorthanded.

“We have protocol to follow with masks, all equipment sanitized the night before and try to do better than the government tells us,” Wilson said. “We even sit on all the benches to keep that distance.”

Joan Buck, who was manning the office, said she wished things were different, but everyone has been cooperating.

“There have been few complaints, everyone has been respectful of each other, and they have been happy to be able to play,” Buck said. “We do a temperature check on the way in, and we pre-register so we know how many are coming.”

Wilson said that the competition from other senior-based sports such as bocce and pickleball has caused numbers to drop, though he added that numbers are stabilizing.

“Things will come back next year. We’re getting new players in today for the club tournament and the Southern District and state tournaments,” Wilson said.

Wilson encourages anyone with an interest to come over on any Saturday and try it, even if you know nothing about the game. You get more from it than just the competition.

“It’s a fun sport, it’s hard to get hurt playing it, and it’s competitive. It isn’t easy to become a seasoned pro,” Wilson said.

“You can play with one leg or one arm or if you can barely see. It’s great for people with disabilities,” Buck said. “Theirs is also the people and the camaraderie. It’s something for everybody.”

For more on the Lee County Shuffleboard Club, go to their Facebook page.