The fourth annual California Shuffleboard Association Soboba Classic Team Tournament Champion Games get under way on Monday, and Marty Boyajian is managing the five-day event once again. He said scheduling 50 games and organizing the week’s activities takes about nine months of planning.
“My budget is over $10,000; luckily I have Soboba (Band of Luiseño Indians) as a primary sponsor,” said Boyajian, of Hemet. “The facilities are all donated; the expense is buying wax and doughnuts for every game. But the community response is terrific for this tournament.”
Forty-foot-long playing “boards” are made of high-polished cement and “dressed” with cornmeal and Styrofoam beads that hold weighted discs on the board as they are pushed with cues.
“I like the friendships of the people you meet here,” he said. “It’s a very technical game as far as strategy, but it’s a family-oriented sport. We’ve got lots of husbands and wives here.”
Boyajian said his wife, Dorothy, was quite a shuffler in her time. She also served as secretary for local CSA District 7 for many years and was inducted into the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame.
“We have 18 teams coming from Arizona — this is the biggest it’s ever been,” said Boyajian, 83. “We have 300 shufflers and about 50 workers.”
The teams that play in the classic consist of hand-picked players, unlike the leagues that play regularly at venues throughout Hemet. League play lasts 20 weeks from October to March.
Mike Sims is a statistician for league play but also helps Boyajian with the tournaments. She has been playing the game since 2000, donating her time as a referee and serving as team captain for many years.
“Everything in shuffleboard is volunteer,” said Sims.
The tournament will officially open Sunday with an orientation meeting at Golden Village at 10 a.m., followed by a “Welcoming Hot Dog and Hamburger Bash.”
Starting Monday, each of five Hemet facilities will have games from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for spectators to watch. They include Hemet Municipal at 700 E. Latham Ave., Hemet West at 5001 W. Florida Ave., Golden Village Palms at 3600 W. Florida Ave., Sierra Dawn Southeast at 1050 San Marcos and Seven Hills off Stetson.
At the games’ conclusion, an awards banquet will be held at Valley-Wide’s Valle Vista Recreation Center on Fairview Avenue. Doors will open at 5 p.m. for the March 26 event.
For many years, Boyajian has taught others how to play the game. He still offers free lessons to anyone who wants to learn.