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Hello everyone and welcome!

This is going to be the beginning of a series about about women playing the game of Petanque in the US.  We are going to start with a friend of HOT. Shirley Jones from Carolina Petanque Club.

Shirley Jones is a relative newcomer to petanque compared to those who have grown up playing the game.  She didn’t start playing until around 2004.  She and her husband were camping in Florida in a little pop-up camper, he had taken an early retirement from his job and Shirley was a semi-retired nurse, and still playing tennis as their most usual form of sports activity.  They were approached by a group of several enthusiastic players who spent a lot of time playing a French game that somewhat resembled the beach activity of bocce ball that they had occasionally played in the past.  The “pay-tonk” players were trying to recruit others for their games.
Though she and her husband declined a couple of times, mostly because he’s a little shy around people he doesn’t know (the exact opposite from Shirley!), they were eventually persuaded one day to play in order to fill out a triples team.  They were teamed with a player from Louisiana who spoke English (some of the Canadian players spoke mostly French) and was very easy-going and laid back– his instructions were just something along the lines of, “…hold it palm down and give it a toss out towards the target,”– so they felt at ease.  They ended up having a lot of fun and played every day for the rest of the time they were there.
Shirley seemed to catch on very quickly and had a natural, relaxed style of throwing the boule (often while continuing a conversation with those around her!) on a slight arc that often ended up with her being very near the target.  She had been a decent bowler in her earlier days and some of that talent seemed to crossover into useful petanque skills.
Upon returning from their Florida trip to their home in Lexington, North Carolina, her husband, Gary, started researching their new activity on the internet web.  He watched videos of really good players and became more enthusiastic about learning to play better.  It wasn’t too long before he convinced Shirley that they should try constructing their own petanque terrain and teach friends to play.
So, in the summer of 2004, they had a contractor level a plot of ground in the back of their home and began constructing their terrain.  After a little internet research, they decided to go with a base of coarse gravel, a surface of fine gravel “screenings,” and a top-dressing of crushed oyster shell.  They used a utility trailer, like people use to transport their lawn mowers, to haul the gravel from a local quarry and compacted it with a garden-tractor/mower.  The oyster shell was obtained in 50 pound bags from local farm&garden feed stores (it’s used for feeding to chickens in order to ensure hard, white eggshells!).
They began playing frequently with a few friends from in and around the Lexington area.  Then, in the fall of 2006, Philippe Boets decided to move his Petanque America equipment distribution business from Miami, Florida, to Greensboro, North Carolina.  Shirley and Gary made contact with Philippe via e-mail, and he came to play at their Lexington terrain (see Petanque America’s blog for October 15, 2006).
Almost exactly a year later, in the fall of 2007, Philippe talked Shirley, Gary, and Bob Moyer (a Winston-Salem player that Gary had met via the internet) into organizing and starting the first FPUSA club in the Carolinas, CarolinaPetanque.
Shirley has continued to be active in all CarolinaPetanque events.  She and her partner won the 2008 club Open tournament.  There were 18 teams from various states up and down the east coast. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Michigan were all represented, as well as teams from throughout North Carolina.  She repeated as club champion in the 2010 Members Only tournament when she and her partner won out in a field of eleven teams.
Shirley and her husband were awarded the national 2009 Vincent Canto award at Petanque America’s Open tournament in Amelia Island, Florida.  The award was in recognition of her having “tirelessly promoted the game of petanque.”
One other achievement worthy of noting is her attendance at the 2010 FPUSA sponsored training seminar in Fresno, California.  The purpose of the seminar was to enable attendees to receive training in properly instructing new players in some of the aspects of the game.
She and her partner participated in the 2011 Petanque America Open in November of last year.  They made the cut from 136 teams down to the 32 teams that began the final day of play in the Championship bracket.  They were eliminated by an Israeli team whose shooter, Gali Shriki, is a multiple-time member of the Israeli National team. The Israeli team went on to win Championship Aa bracket.
She and her partner participated in the 2012 version of the Heart of Texas Open in April of this year.  They played well enough to make the cut from a field of 32 teams down to the round of sixteen where they were beaten 13-10 by a fine Texas team.
Shirley and her husband continue to play in the Carolinas, Florida, Virginia, and Texas with occasional forays into other states as well.
A+Love. Arsene.

One Response

  1. What an excellent write-up! …only forgot to mention one thing: She’s a great MOM and GRANDMOTHER, too! 🙂 We love you “Nanny Jones”! 🙂 Signed, daughter Lynda Jones Acuna and family: Rob, Marin, Maeve & Myles

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