Snowbird Shuffle: Tournament is annual event for winter visitors

Jessica Coker
Even the chilly morning weather couldn't keep the fans from supporting their team.

Never missing a beat, line coach Sue Pschigoda was all work and no play calling out scores during Thursday's intense snowbird-versus-snowbird shuffleboard tournament.

With each push of the cue and each collision of the pucks, Pschigoda called out numbers to alert the players and the crowd. "In the kitchen sink," was something that she didn't say often, but when she did, the crowd would gasp slightly because it would cost the team 10 points each time.

For more than a decade, Destin and Panama City snowbirds have been flocking together for ResortQuest's shuffleboard tournament. The snowbird season lasts from November until March, so holding the tournament in February every year allows the individual teams ample practice time before the big showdown.

This year's tournament was held at the Island Echos Condominiums on Okaloosa Island. The tournament is split into three teams — SunDestin Beach Resort, Island Echos and Tidewater from Panama City. Within the three teams there are three divisions — women's division, men's division and co-ed division.

"They take this tournament very seriously," said Phyllis Shanks, Okaloosa Island area general manager with ResortQuest. "It gets pretty intense."

The fans do too. With more than 40 people cheering on their choice for champion, the crowd at the shuffleboard court looked more like the last game of a tied World Series.

All of the participants played strong, but only one team per division could come out on top.

Bringing home the big win in the women's division was Diane Flynn and Elaine Brunette of the SunDestin team. The men's division winners were Charlie Rogers and Don Sandburg of team Island Echos. Donna Paradis and Jerry Ervin of team SunDestin won in the co-ed division.

The winning teams get a $100 gift card from ResortQuest, a trophy and bragging rights.

Bev Martin, a snowbird from Canada, showed that winning isn't everything in her book. "We got skunked!," joked Martin. "This was one of my first times playing any way, it was fun." Martin was a good sport about being beat in the co-ed division.