Millions of people are familiar with pool and a majority of Americans have played at least one game in their lifetime, but only a select few become really hooked on the game. So, what our PoolSynergy host this month (Michael Reddick) wants to know is: What's your story? Why do you love the game? What got you hooked?
Wow, even though I get asked this a lot, no one has asked me in a long time: How did I get started playing pool? I am sure everyone's story is similar, right? (tongue planted firmly in my left cheek).
Well, it all began when I was in high school. I was an avid video gamer - this is about to expose my age - and I could ace many video games like Galaga, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Joust, and Defender. I played these video games at a local arcade/pool room whose atmosphere was for kids my age (teens). I probably went there a lot and was good at video games because I was an only child and did things that didn't involve "requiring" other people. Eventually, I became so good at the video games I got bored because I could play for hours on only one quarter (don't play me Galaga even today - fair warning). :) So I ventured over to the pool tables to fill my time and satisfy my thirst for staying busy.
Then I went to college at Texas A&M and continued my pool prowess and played at the local pool rooms there. My dorm friends were intrigued how well I could play for some reason. That would lead me to play on the quarter tables at the local college bars we all frequented. I found myself on the tables all night long - not just because I was winning, but because I wanted to be around those roughed-up bar tables.
I then started to meet real pool players by joining the school's team, and getting my feet wet with tournaments. In my very first weekly tournament in college, I had no idea there was a B side. After I lost my first match, I was so thoroughly embarrassed, I just walked out upset. They would tell me later I had had another match to play. Really? I had no idea how a tournament was run and that I would get another chance!
I'll also never forget that one girl everyone said was REALLY good that I almost beat in my first collegiate tournament. Everyone was in awe I got so close, but I didn't know I was suppose to be nervous or not win. I recognized she won that last game hill-hill because she knew how to stop her ball and was getting "shape" - which made me want to figure that out.
After college, I stopped going to the kiddie arcade/pool room and moved up to Galaxy Billiards in San Antonio, a REAL pool hall with many more tables and better players. I made a lot of new friends, played in weekly tournaments, regional tournaments and even ventured to Vegas for the BCAPL Nationals after I joined a league. I was on a league, even!
I guess for me, pool just became a way of life for me. I started to travel to regional events in Texas with my new pool friends, enjoyed running into friends at the events, met my boyfriends through pool, etc. I dated a pro for about 5 years and that kept me around this wonderful game. Then I started to work on my game diligently because a younger female player in San Antonio improved real fast and I was jealous of her progress. That helped me want to improve and that's when I started to make "practice" a routine in my life. Ironically, she no longer plays pool, lol.
The beautiful game of pool gave me places to go AND I felt like I belonged somewhere. Galaxy Billiards became a second home to me; my friends became best friends; leagues and tournaments were fun for me.
This is another good question our host-of-the-month asks: Why do some people move on to other interests and yet I keep playing?
Well, I do things I love. That means I still have love for pool. I am also still challenged by it. It is a game that tests your mental attitude over and over again. I have so much to learn, I am not ready to move on yet! I haven't won enough tournaments yet to move on. I have goals still to accomplish. I also am now into other games of the trade - straight pool and one pocket. I can't even fathom stopping now! Those two games are so much more amazing than 9ball - I have too much to learn!
Additionally, I stayed with pool for other non-playing reasons: I am a webmaster for about 5 or more pool-related websites; I ran a women's tour for over 9 years; I was a photographer at many tournaments. Pool was all-encompassing for me, I was successful as a pool ambassador, more than a player.
Further, pool is my family. My best friends play pool, my mentors play pool, the best times I have are at leagues and tournaments, my vacations revolve around pool. I can't begin to to even desribe how important pool is to my psyche - being with friends is my therapy. And finally, playing pool has introduced me to so many amazing people in my life.