Shuffleboard – The Fountain of Youth

Story and Photos by Eryn Reddell Wingert

The Snow to Sun shuffleboard courts were packed the first Thursday in November, as day two of the Venis Hall Shuffleboard Tournament commenced. 

The tournament’s namesake was in the ranks, playing in row six. He looked like all of the other men taking part–jeans, tennis shoes, ball cap–whistling and commenting quietly as his puck glided across the court.

Hall has been playing shuffleboard for over a quarter of a century, which also equals a quarter of his lifetime. Venis Hall is 101.  

“Oh, he’s my idol!” says Texas State Shuffleboard Association (TSSA) president Brenda Noakes, who served as a tournament referee that day. She lists the reasons: his longevity, his attitude on life, the good example he sets, and his good sportsmanship.

Tournament coordinator Deb Baal agrees. “He’s such a good man.” And an enthusiastic participant, whether he’s playing or refereeing. “You should have seen him yesterday,” she says. “He’d get down on his hands and knees to look over the puck, then jump up!”

Shuffleboard is a year-round activity for Venis and Betty, his wife of 31 years. In the summer, they play three times a week at the indoor courts at Fun-N-Sun in San Benito. (Incidentally, Fun-N-Sun will host the 41st Annual International Shuffleboard Tournament in October 2024.)

As the Winter Texan season kicks in, the Halls play shuffleboard almost every day at Snow to Sun. “It looks like it’s kind of simple,” says Betty, “but, actually, there’s a lot of strategy to it …speed…curve of the court.” Plus, they take part in McAllen Parks & Recreation’s Golden Age Olympics. 

When Venis turned 101, Deb and her husband, Rod decided to name Snow to Sun’s fall shuffleboard tournament in his honor. Their reasoning: Why wait?. Hall took the news in stride, but Baal says she thinks he’s tickled about it. 

She’s probably right. “Just because I’m old,” was Venis’ response—said with a chuckle–when asked about it. He says he enjoys playing with anybody he can get ahold of.  “It just gets in your blood,” he says.

The Halls, both classified as “Experts” with the TSSA, are known to share their love of the game and encourage newcomers to the sport.  “Making friends,” says Betty. “That’s the joy of it.” 

Part of the joy is also Venis’ signature ball cap. Its pink. He’s been wearing a pink ball cap to play for years, according to Betty (as were other players, during the tournament, in his honor. 

The court action lasted for a good hour and a half that morning before players and spectators retreated to the warmth of the hall. As Venis made his way to join the others, he’s approached and acknowledged by well-wishers…a fan favorite coming off the court.

“You come here, you see 80- and 90-year-olds playing, and you think, ‘Wow! They’re so active!’” reflects Baal. “I think it’s the shuffle.”

For more information on shuffleboard in the Rio Grande Valley, visit

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