COLUMBUS — After watching her red puck slide across the wood surface knocking her opponent’s blue piece into a better position, Abbey Misfeldt could only joke.
“You’re welcome,” Misfeldt said to her competitor.
It was a lighthearted moment during a tournament that was all about fun anyway.
Misfeldt was one of the more than 270 people taking part in the Terry Murphy Eagles State Shuffleboard Tournament in Columbus this weekend at the Eagles Club. Named after the former state director of the Eagles, the annual event has been held for 33 years.
The location for the two-day tournament switches sites at various Eagles Clubs across the state. Eagles members from Nebraska could sign up teams of eight to compete.
There are 34 teams in Columbus. Some are regulars who have been playing shuffle board for years, while others are newcomers giving it a try to the first time.
“It’s all for fun. We do it for a fundraiser for our state charity. This year it is domestic violence (awareness),” said Bob Runquist, tournament director.
Sixteen shuffleboard tables measuring 22 feet in length, have been brought in from Holdrege for the tournament. On Saturday, there was never a lull in action as games were played continuously.
Judy Carr of Holdrege has been taking part in the tournament for about 10 years. She said it is the only time of year that she plays.
Though Carr said she takes part in it for the friendship and entertainment, she couldn’t hold back her inner competitor after seeing her opponent make a nice shot.
“Darn it,” she said, eyeing the board before looking over her shoulder. “I sill like to win.”
Nick Vrtiska of Beatrice also has been playing shuffleboard for years. He said it is a sport that can be played by all ages, and that is what makes the tournament so much fun.
“Other things like pool, you’ve got to be pretty good. But anyone can play shuffleboard,” he said.
All that is needed is a little bit of aim and the right touch to get the metal puck to glide perfectly across the table for a score. Of course that is easier than it sounds. Many players were finding that out after watching their puck fall into the gutter that surrounds the table.
Aside from raising awareness for domestic violence and building comraderie, the top teams at the event also pocket cash prizes, Runquist said.
Most of the players at the tournament are older than 50, but there are those in their 20s like Misfeldt, of McCook. She started playing last year with her boyfriend, who is a member of the Eagles in McCook.
“We are the youngest ones there, but we like. I think they like having us there, too,” she said.