Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Killer Instinct And Frienships

I'll never forget that one particular match where my opponent taught me the hard way about the killer instinct.Yea, I was on the other end of it.

Back in the mid 90s, when I was hardly a good pool player, mostly a ball banger still, I played in a tournament against my friend Karen. She was an extremely sweet woman and I think we were even on a team together once at BCAPL Nationals.  She played good, and much better than I, and was considered one of the better players in the central Texas area.

When we played in this tournament, she was beating me pretty badly. I couldn't string two balls in a row and she kept winning and winning.  I was SO frustrated and VERY upset because it seemed like everything was going against me.

Now, we aren't suppose to feel sorry for our opponents, and she for sure didn't care she was beating up on me.

I don't think I was even as on the scoreboard yet; she was just annihilating me.

I was mostly frustrated with myself for losing so badly, but what Karen did next I will never forget. Even typing it out, I can feel my blood pressure rising. It was like it was yesterday.

I fouled and she had a chance to make a combo on the 9ball to win the match. I was down 0-6.

She took ball in hand and went for the combo and made it.

I was FREAKING LIVID! I couldn't believe she did that to me!  Personally... to me! I was very angry, hurt, upset, mad, embarrassed, you name it.

I was pretty vocal to her and I told her I couldn't believe she did that. I raised my voice to her, "you just stabbed my in the heart!  How could you go for that combo when I was down 0-6?!?!"

I walked away, bitching, "she just stabbed me in the heart!"

It felt SO personal that she would go for the combo to beat me, when she was already beating me 0-6.

As I reflect back, I know now obviously that she was just trying to win. She had the killer instinct.

I can appreciate her today, and I can also appreciate how tough that might have been to seal the deal with a 9ball combo against a friend who was struggling, and losing 0-6.

I was still very, very angry about the match because I was so new to competition.

As I type this out, it reminds me of another incident... and I think I did this to a friend by accident later on.

In the early 2000s, I was playing in south Houston at Legend's Billiards in a tournament. I was playing a good friend in the first or second round.

At this time in my life, my husband at the time was helping me work on gaining a killer instinct.  Doing what I needed to do to win, instead of letting up against friends or feeling sorry for my opponents.

So I'm playing my friend and at one point in the match she scratches on the break. I have ball-in-hand and see an easy safe on the first ball. I play safe to put her on 2, to try and 3-foul her. It wasn't a very good safe, but she still had to kick at the ball. She missed it and I got ball in hand again and again played safe. This time, she kicked at the ball even worse and I won that game by 3-fouling her.

I don't recall exactly what happened next, but she was VERY visibly upset with me. I didn't understand why, but she was pissed. I can't remember if she played out the match or not but I ended up defeating her because she was so upset and wasn't playing pool at that point on anymore.

She didn't speak to me the rest of the weekend and I didn't know why. I got upset about it but she left to drive back home (she didn't live in Houston and had a long drive) and I asked a mutual friend what was going on.

She told me that my friend was upset that I 3-fouled her.  She thought that since we were friends, I shouldn't have done that to her.

I was shocked!

This mutual friend tried to comfort her, but she realized she was too upset and could only listen and hug her. 

I called my friend Monday morning and tried to leave a heartfelt message that I was sorry, and I hoped she was okay. And I hated that she was so mad at me.

We eventually talked later that morning and she was very blunt and honest with me.

She said she couldn't believe I tried to 3-foul her. She told me, "There wasn't any clusters, so why would you even try?"

I told her, "you scratched and there was an easy safe with ball in hand so I went for it."

She tells me angrily, "you didn't even play a good safe!  You got lucky I didn't hit it. "

I told her my husband was trying to teach me to have a more killer instinct and here I was getting bitched at for playing the game properly.

I was upset about the whole altercation and the words we had with each other because we were good friends. I was working on my game and trying to improve.  In my eyes, I did nothing wrong.  But in her eyes, there was no reason to try to 3- foul her because there were no clusters.

I guess I should have tried to run out.  But, I was not good enough back then to run racks, and 3-fouling without a cluster on the table is the choice I made at the time.  I didn't do it to hurt her, I was just trying to win a game. 

I went for the win; which in the past I wouldn't have done.  Since she was a friend, I normally wouldn't have done that to her, but I was trying to be more competitive; TRYING have a more killer instinct and play pool, not be friends "on the table," because being too nice was costing me matches.

Eventually, she would take lessons and get a coach and her game improved immensely!  She got way got better than I. Her knowledge for sure was exponential.

I hate that these two incidences happened but it shows how weird/different girls/females can be when it comes to competing and the killer instinct, and what we struggle through when we first start competing against friends.

I do think that if I had played sports in high school, I would have been more competitive and less likely to ease up against friends earlier in my pool career.  Even now, I sometimes still struggle with that. 

But, everything happens for a reason and is a learning experience.  While I hated these two instances occurred, we all learned from them in the end.

No comments: