Tallahassee’s Thornton father and sons enjoy a game for life at the Florida Senior Games
A term used in describing a handful of Florida Senior Games sports is, “It’s a game for life.” Translated, there’s not many chances an athlete in that sport will sustain career-ending injuries.
The Florida Senior Games offers sports where athletes rely on the elements of focus, accuracy, and strategy and not a lot of physical demands.
Such is the case with Florida Senior Games Billiards champion, Bond Thornton, of Tallahassee. Now competing in the 75-79 age group, Bond’s talents for the game began in his youth and were honed during his college days at Florida State University. He enrolled in college in 1969 after serving time in the military.
In need of work, he knew exactly where to go, the Crenshaw Lanes Bowling Alley in the FSU Student Union. Besides bowling, it offered students a side room with pool tables.
“I lived in the Alumni Village and got a job there as soon as I came to campus working 20 hours a week as the night manager,” Thornton said.
The lure of the billiards tables also brought his two sons, Eric and Bruce, to Crenshaw Lanes to take advantage of the perks of their father’s part time job.
“My brother and I would have been about eight or nine when dad was working there,” said Eric. “We would go and play while he was working at night.”
In the 2018 Florida Senior Games, Bond will be playing in the 75-79 age group while Eric and Bruce will be in the 55-59 age group.
Leading up to the 2018 Florida Senior Games, to be held December 1-9 in Clearwater and Pinellas County, Bond and Bruce will sharpen their skills during their weekly pool night out, usually on a Friday night at a choice of local billiards establishments.
Eric, who lives in the Atlanta area, will join them December 7-9. During visits to Tallahassee, both sons join their dad for a night out shooting pool. Both Bond and Eric had the same sentiments about how the game brings their family together.
“It’s a nice thing we can do together,” they both said.
Over the years of raising his family and working as a contractor and as a Facilities Director for the Florida Department of Management Services, where he oversaw projects at the Governor’s Mansion, Bond also spent time on local golf courses. However, nagging injuries have kept a billiards cue stick in his hands more than a golf club.
“Billiards is a nice individual sport,” said Bond. “It takes a lot of concentration and skill. You learn that skill by playing a lot. But as you get older, you’re not as good as you used to be.”
That’s the advantage of Senior Games competitions on local, state and national levels, according to Bond.
“The good thing about playing in the Senior Games is you’re matched up with folks your own age,” he said. “It’s a lifetime sport. You see several people at the Senior Games in their 90s still playing. It’s the same with golf, just not me any longer.”
Bond and Bruce played in local leagues for a while but decided it took up too much of their time.
“We wouldn’t get home until 1:00 in the morning,” Bond said with a laugh. “Bruce had to get up and go to work in the morning.”
The game hasn’t changed much over the years for Bond Thornton, except now it’s a family outing for him and his adult sons instead of them tagging along to Crenshaw Lanes.
The old bowling alley and pool tables of Crenshaw Lanes are no longer in the FSU Student Union, due to a $120 million renovation of the 50-year old facility. When it’s done, it will be distinctly different than what the Thornton family knew in the early 1970s.
“I haven’t been to Crenshaw Lanes in a few years but the last time I was there, it looked exactly the same as when I was in school,” Bond said. “Except now they sell beer.”
About the Florida Sports Foundation
Florida’s Sports Industry creates over $57.4 billion in economic impact for the Sunshine State, provides over 580,000 jobs for its citizens, and attracts over 16 million out of state visitors each year. All of which deservingly make Florida the “Sports Capital of the World”. The Florida Sports Foundation, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation, serving as the Sports Industry Development Division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The mission of the Florida Sports Foundation is to:
- Assist Florida’s communities with securing, hosting and retaining Sporting events and sports related business that generate significant economic impact and Sports Tourism for the state of Florida through the Foundation’s grant programs, legislative initiatives and Industry Partner service, recognition and development.
- Provide the citizens of Florida with participation opportunities in the Sunshine State Games and Florida Senior Games events.
- Serve as Florida’s leading resource for Sport Tourism research and facts.
- Assist in the promotion of targeted leisure sports industries in Florida.
- Assist National and Florida State Governing Bodies to promote amateur sport development through the Sunshine State Games and hosting events in Florida.