Kansas Winter Texan Takes on Leadership Roles in RV Park and Community
by Rocio Villalobos
Brenda Knoakes thrives on a jam-packed schedule. She was a school teacher for 30 years and during that time also coached volleyball, softball, and track in Kansas. While she’s retired, Knoakes still carries on her love of teaching at Pharr’s Texas Trails RV Resort by leading the park’s shuffleboard and cornhole tournaments. She holds the titles of president of the Rio Grande Valley’s Texas State Shuffleboard Association and tournament director for Texas Trails.
Tournaments are hosted in the park once or twice a month, drawing about 30 players, and she is present for every game, making sure the rules are followed and all is going well. Apart from that, she and a few others participate in larger-scale tournaments, such as McAllen’s Golden Olympics. Being so involved in the games of shuffleboard and cornhole, she said, has allowed her to make new friends from both within and outside the park.
“I think you get to know the people better who you share activities with,” Knoakes said. “But also, throughout the Valley, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
Knoakes discovered her passion for the game of cornhole through camping, as many campers keep cornhole boards in their RVs and play with their families or neighbors. While shuffleboard has been around at the park for a while, she helped introduce cornhole three years ago. She likens her time spent in South Texas as a “summer camp for seniors.”
“I never got to go to summer camp when I was a kid, and here there are activities for all different kinds of interest,” Knoakes said. “You can be as busy as you want to be.”
When she’s not enjoying a game of shuffleboard or cornhole, Knoakes likes to attend dances at various American Legion posts with her veteran husband. Coming from an athletic background, she makes it a priority to stay moving.
“As you start aging, sitting around is not good for the body,” Knoakes said. “So being so busy with things is a good way for me to not spend time in front of the TV.
Knoakes is grateful she discovered the Valley back in 2010 because the warm weather of the region allows her to spend much of her time outside enjoying nature.
“Even when it’s nice up there (Kansas), it’s too cold to really do things. And I’m just an outdoor person,” Knoakes said. “It’s just a good place to come and to be around people and not have to be cooped up in the winter.”
Knoakes said there are still a few more tournaments coming up before she heads back home, but she is especially excited for “the big deal” in 2021 when San Benito will host an international shuffleboard tournament.
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