After putting together an impressive record across Florida over the past year, Atticus Palmer took his pinball game to the national stage this weekend. The Coral Springs wunderkind -- profiled last week in New Times -- was among the 25 competitors hitting the flippers yesterday at the International Flipper Pinball Association's U.S. national championship in Lyons, Colorado. It was Palmer's first taste of national competition.
"The place was packed," Atticus' dad, Jeff, told New Times on Sunday afternoon. "You literally had a who's who of pinball here."
A pinballer since he was 3 years old, when Atticus was introduced to the game by his father, he's shown a preternatural ability on the flippers. In 2011, he began competing in IFPA-sanctioned tournaments across Florida.
Last February, he clinched the state championship in an all-day matchup in Boynton Beach. The win qualified Atticus for the nationals.
Unfortunately, the Florida state champ didn't make it out of the second round. In his first matchup, against Ohio champ Rod Lawrence, Atticus won four games and dropped two, advancing to the next round.
But there, he was matched up against Michigan's Andy Rosa -- the 14th-ranked player in the world. "Atticus lost four games in a row," Jeff explained. Rosa advanced to the next two rounds, eventually losing in the semifinals.
But all in all, the Palmers say their trip out west wasn't deflated by the loss. It was the family's first time in Colorado. They checked out the Stanley Hotel, the property that inspired The Shining. And Atticus was still among the youngest players in the tournament. When Jeff talked with New Times yesterday, his son was crashed out in the hotel room, recovering from play. But Jeff said his son wasn't too bummed.
"Atticus would say he had one goal -- to win his first match against an elite player."