Florida Feature By Nick Gandy, Florida Senior Games
A floor above the hustle and bustle of Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center Main Exhibit Hall, containing 12 basketball courts, 42 pickleball courts and 12 volleyball courts, Ocala’s Paul Hodges and Darryl Kenyon are alternating matches on 16 shuffleboard courts.
In order to repeat on their Doubles Gold Medal success from the 2019 National Senior Games, they must navigate the intricacies of each of the 16 courts. The discs react differently on each court once they leave the sticks and travel 39 feet to the other side of the court.
Hodges likens the differences in each court to the greens on a golf course. But there’s a big difference.
“You can read the breaks on a golf course and get an idea of where the ball will go,” he said. “You can look at these courts all day and not see a thing.”
To help him figure out the twists and turns of each of the courts, Hodges keeps a series of “drift cards,” and documents how the discs travel from the shooting area.
“It’s kind of a cheat sheet,” Hodges admits.
His documentation of the five courts he and Kenyon played on Saturday, and in singles play, on Friday, will come in handy in the championship bracket that begins on Sunday.
In winning four of their five matches on Saturday, Hodges and Kenyon scored more than 100 points in three of the wins. They were the only team in the 11-team 60-64 age group pool to score more than 100 points.
When asked how that was accomplished, Kenyon answered with a shrug, “We play a lot we’ve learned how to read the drifting of the courts. If you’re not used to that, it’s tough. These are also faster courts”
Indeed, they play a lot around the state of Florida within their Ocala community while venturing out to play in Leesburg and Zephyrhills. The level of competition is a step up at the 2022 National Senior Games, presented by Humana.
“It’s a lot more fun playing here with people who know what they’re doing,” Hodges said. Their lone loss on Saturday was to Edgar Ensley and Perry Teesateskie, from North Carolina.
They have one more pool play match on Sunday morning, but their four wins gives them a good chance to advance to an eight-team championship bracket.
As the returning gold medalists in the 60-64 age group, all eyes are on the Florida team. Hodges claims there’s no pressure for them to repeat.
“Personally, I did want to win the gold medal in Albuquerque,” he said. “We came this time for fun. What happens, happens and it’s ok.”