NORTH EAST — Tuesday through Sunday of last week, North East VFW Post 6027 hosted the 22nd annual installment of the Women Wandering the World Shuffleboard Tournament. The largest (and only) women-only shuffleboard tournament in the U.S., the event brought a record 102 participants to North East for friendly and professional competition and camaraderie.
Established in California, the tournament was a way to get women playing a traditionally male-dominated sport.
“The women love it,” said Jane Mourgos, a San Francisco native who helped found the tournament 22 years ago. “We really have created a sisterhood.”
The tournament featured participants from all over the country and 16 different states, including California, Texas, Oregon, and Wyoming. According to Katie Steel, a North East resident and player who took 3rd in the Division 2 Singles portion of the tournament, the event usually draws several ladies from Western Canada who were unable to attend this year due to border restrictions.
Mourgos noted that the event has grown from 25 women at the first tournament, to a whopping 102 players at the 22nd.
“They’ve been saying this is the best tournament they’ve been in,” said Chrissy Webster, a local player who helped organize the tournament. Webster and her partner claimed first in the AB tournament.
The tournament was divided into several sub-tournaments that took place throughout the week: AB (doubles), ABC (triples), Singles and Bring Partner. In the doubles and triples formats, players are assigned a letter (i.e. A or B) based on their official Bowers rating – which is tracked digitally on a nationwide system – and play against the opponent with the corresponding letter.
Taking into account how many of the participants were from far outside of Maryland, the event’s organizers conspired to make sure that they experienced a little taste of local flavor.
According to Steel, each participant was given a gift basket including a number of regional delicacies – including a tin of Old Bay. Elkton’s the Teal Antler set up a mobile store for participants to browse, and organizers ordered a bushel of crabs so that the nonlocal participants could experience picking crabs.
“These people have been nothing but generous and kind,” said Gene Daley, Commander of the North East VFW Post. Daley noted that the Post had cooked breakfast for the participants, making sure that scrapple was on the menu.
The artwork for the trophies – which included a handmade tiara for the champions – and event posters was provided by local artist and shuffleboard player Tammy Cooke.