By G. Gregory Tooker, State Ambassador, MA Senior Games
Tewksbury – Cheryle and John Laffey are recently retired but full of energy and anxious to tackle new adventures in life. The active couple chose the sport of shuffleboard a years ago. Selection criteria included an opportunity to travel, injury avoidance and a chance to meet new friends.
Shuffleboard is a game in which players use cues to push weighted discs, sending them gliding down a narrow wooden court, with the purpose of having them come to rest within a marked scoring area. It is commonly found in places where seniors enjoy recreational opportunities such as cruise ships, senior centers or retirement complexes.
Neither Cheryle nor John shy away from a challenge. After a relatively short introduction to the game and virtually no measurable practice, they decided to travel to Utah and compete in the 2016 Huntsman World Games, an event that attracts some of the best senior athletes from throughout the world. The couple was pleasantly surprised when, despite their inexperience, they were welcomed and provided needed advice and assistance by the Games officials and fellow athletes. John and Cheryle did not place but they came away convinced they would have a good chance to medal in the future.
In the following years, the husband and wife team continued to improve, qualifying for the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala. where they did not medal but performed very well. In 2018, they competed in both the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Senior Games, winning gold medals in both singles and doubles, qualifying them again for the National Senior Games in 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico where they won a bronze medal in doubles. Their seven children and 14 grandchildren cheer them on energetically.
Cheryle and John serve as Event Managers in Shuffleboard for the MA Senior Games and are actively supporting development of the game, especially at senior centers. The couple also teaches classes in Tewksbury. Shuffleboard is friendly to players at every level, including the physically challenged. John has also served for many years as an umpire for wheelchair softball competitions throughout the state.
The Laffeys believe that seniors should seriously consider making the game of shuffleboard part of their active lifestyle. For a relatively modest investment, your senior center can install a court, according to John and Cheryle. (They were able to convince Tewksbury to add two courts.) As they said, the sport is a good way to improve flexibility, eye-hand coordination and to make some new friends.
If you are interested in learning more about the world of shuffleboard, contact Cheryle and John at [email protected].