Thursday, May 31, 2012

Video: Bartendar Juggling at Circus Circus

If you are old enough to remember Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, then you will appreciate this video clip even more!

While we were in Vegas in May for all the big pool tourneys, my buddy Andy kept raving about a bartender he saw at one of the Circus Circus Casino bars.  I told him, "video tape the guy for me - he sounds awesome and I'll put it in my blog."

Well, he IS awesome!  He juggles 4 full bottles at one time!  He told Andy it took him 3-4 months of practice to finally add the 4th bottle.  Wish I would have seen this guy in person!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mental Status in Vegas (May 2012)

As I've mentioned several times already, I played in both the ACS Nationals and the BCAPL Nationals in May this year... and I had a heck of a run!!  I'm elated by my finishes; truly am.

To recap my trip:

ACS Nationals 9Ball Women's Singles:   Out in two

ACS Nationals 8Ball Women's Singles:   3rd place

BCAPL Nationals 9Ball Women's Singles:   9th place

BCAPL Nationals Open Scotch Doubles:     one out of the money

BCAPL Nationals 8Ball Women's Singles:   17th place out of 388 players

CSI Straight Pool Challenge, Women's Division:   1st place!

BCAPL Nationals Women's Open Team:    1st place!!
While all my good finishes were (are still) amazing to me, the two weeks were also full of many personal heartaches.  I have had a lot of "things" happen in the last 4 weeks where people questioned my character and integrity, and I learned that some people aren't really my friends after all.

I know in my heart I played badly the first event because I could care less about the world or pool.  I was so upset with my "relationships" with friends that my mental game suffered.  While I rebounded in my next event (and place 3rd in ACS Nationals 8Ball Women's Singles), I would find out even MORE things the following week that had me constantly crying in my hotel room, questioning my trust in friends, and questioning my faith in being a good person to the game of pool and in life.

The passing of my Mom in August has been very rough on me.  I have barely survived.  And then to be thrown to the wolves (so to speak) by people really took it's toll on me.  I haven't been in this dark of a place in my life in a long time.  If all these "situations" would have occurred over the course of a year, I wouldn't have been so upset.  But because they all happened with 4 weeks of each other, I seriously couldn't handle it. 


Only a few friends knew what was going on with me internally, and how bad it really was.  I didn't want to share my sorrows even more; I am already expressing almost every day how terrible it is without my Mom.

But I WAS upset.  Very.  Still am.  Hurt.  Beyond words.

However, all this going on, how did I manage to play pool?  And play somewhat successfully? 

As we know, pool is mostly mental.

My teammate Monica helped me with the answer, by asking me this question:  "What was your goal this year?"

The answer was simple:  My goal was to give myself the best chance to play well.

I didn't have a goal to "finish in a certain place", or to "do well in the tourneys."  My goal was instead to get rest, not stay out late, not get drunk a lot, and get sleep so that I would give myself the best chance to play pool well.

I know I play best when I'm well-rested, and not hungover.  I know that I think clearer and have a sharper mental game when I have had sleep and am NOT exhausted.  I know that I execute my fundamentals and pre-shot routine best when I am rested (I get lazy when I'm tired). 

I took naps, rested a lot, didn't stay out late, only drank twice the whole two weeks, and did a lot of things to prepare my mental state full of good things:  I sat by several casino pools, walked along pretty gardens in the casinos; took in the atmosphere of The Mirage (it's beautiful there); ate properly during the day and before matches; rested a lot in my room and took naps when needed; ate lunch or dinner with good friends.  You can see the theme here:  being proactive to achieve a good mental aura.

Ahhh... The Mirage pool/waterfall.  

The Tropicana, so serene, right?!  ACS was held here.

Baby dolphin!!  At The Mirage Casino

The Riviera pool, where the BCAPL was held.

So, that was my goal:  give myself the best chance to play pool well by taking care of myself.

And, it worked.

My only wish was my Mom was still alive so I could share my accomplishments with her.  I know she'd be so proud of me. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Finals: BCAPL Women's Open Teams

The Open Women's Team I was on, How's My Rack, won our 9:30pm hot seat match Friday night in Vegas on May 18th.  We were ELATED!  It was a very tough match against fellow Texans from the DFW metro-plex area, and we barely squeaked by 9-7.

Because we won that match, we were in the finals of the 2012 BCAPL National Championship Women's Open Team division!  Eeek, omg!

We don't play the finals until 7pm the next night.  7pm?!  What the hell does one do with themselves for so many hours leading up to one of the most important matches of your life?!?!

Well, a few of us went to eat, some gambled slots, some played card games, some went to sleep.  I think I played Let It Ride for about an hour.  Even though we didn't play our match for almost 20 hours doesn't mean a "free" night in Vegas getting drunk was the answer for me.  I wanted to be fresh and rested! 

Our team shirt, hehe

I watched a couple of men's team matches the next morning and afternoon, ate lunch, and then I played some more Let It Ride.  I then picked up a Quiznos toasted ham sandwich (yummm!) and went to my room for a small, needed nap.

My boyfriend sent me a text for all us ladies on the team. Instead of "Good luck ladies!" it said, "Good lick ladies!" :) lmao!  His typo made for a great pick up for the team!

One of my teammates came to my room and we talked about pool, pressure, shared stories, yacked, etc.  She was pretty adamant we would NOT be double dipped in this final, like what happened to us at BCAPL State just a mere month before.  She said each of the team members all agreed we didn't want that to happen again.  I also agreed, altho I have to admit being double dipped never even crossed my mind.  ;)

She then mentioned she heard I put on FB our team was in the Finals.  She wasn't very happy I did that, because if we lost, it meant we got double dipped.  My reply was, "We aren't going to be."

It hadn't even dawned on me that anyone would be upset I shared the great news that we were in the finals!  However, because my actions bothered her and added some concerns to her heart and mind, that in turn bothered me.  And it stuck with me all the way into the start of the match.  I felt like it was on my shoulders that I put that added pressure on her.  BUT - I was freakin' proud of our team!  I wanted everyone to know we were in the finals!  How can I NOT share that!?

It truly hadn't even crossed my mind the invisible pressure of "what if."

I didn't DARE mention to her that everyone were already talking on FB that we were in the finals; I didn't want her to feel more pressure by sharing that.  I just tried to accept what I said bothered her, and tried to play in the finals with no distractions.   That's easier said than done, lol.

Women's Open Team:  How's My Rack?  Connie, Jennifer, Lisa, Me, Monica

My teammates and I show up at our match tables about 10-15 mins early.  Interestingly, our opponents aren't even there yet.  I thought that was kinda weird, tbh.  Why weren't they at the tables already?  What were they doing?

Altho they had won 3 matches earlier that day and made it the finals, I figured at least one team member would be in the area already. 

BTW, we had heard they "expected" to be in the finals with us because "we shouldn't have beat them," their captain told one of my teammates.   So, we knew the finals would be a good, tough match.

The team from Chicago (Monsters Inc.) finally showed up and they were in a good mood. 

We were quiet.  


We each kept the same line up from when we met a few rounds earlier, and we played the finals match two tables at a time right next to each other.

My team did our normal "chant" in a circle to pump each other up, and then we were ready to play!

Lisa and I were first and as our opponents were racking, I walked over to her and I high-fived her with authority!  I really liked doing that - it showed I had faith in her, and it got me ready as well!

My opponent and I both missed shots in that first game for some reason.  Finally, I told myself "if she misses again, that's it - I'm getting out."  I was tired of missing shots, lol.  

As I sat there waiting, I noticed a distinct difference between our team and there's. They were very lose, laughing, talking, having fun. We were, well, not intended, but we were "acting" uptight and very quiet.  Not laughing either.  We should be having fun!

Sure enough, I got another chance at the table and ran out. :) My teammates were barely clapping or saying anything during my run or after my win.

I reacted to being VERY relieved to win against their best player and walked up to my teammates and shouted, "Come on ladies! Let's hear some noise, we are in the finals!!"

We high-fived and cheered and that seemed to wake them up a little.  We all seemed to cheer more after that and complimented each other when we were at the table - I know how much the encouragement from my teammates helps me when I'm at the table and wanted my teammates to hear it, also.

We won many games right off the bat, and found ourselves on the hill to 2!   We were 8-2 in a race to 9 already.   OMG!

We only needed one more game to win!

When this is going on, you're not too sure what really is at stake - we were just going through the motions of playing the game we love. It all seemed to happen so fast that we were on the hill.

But then it happened, one by one, we lost a game. Then another. Then another.

I actually had a chance to win it for the team with a 3-ball out with ball-in-hand. I didn't want to overhit my last ball and therefore fell WAY short and got out of line on the 8ball. This is how bad I hit it:  I could bank the 8 ball in either pocket to my left and right, or I could cut the 8ball in the side or the end pocket. I had so many choices, lol!

I finally decided to cut it in the corner. I decided to put inside on the ball so it wouldn't scratch in the opposite corner. I made the 8ball nicely!   Sweet!   But, I hit her ball in the center of the table and the cueball went right in the side! omg.... :(

One of my teammates said I underhit the ball, well no shit.  I already knew that and I already felt bad I let the team down.

We were up now only 8-6. :( I wanted SO badly for my two other teammates who were at the tables to win.... so everyone would forget my mistake.   haha.  Well, that's not funny - I am serious!  If we won, no one would remember I dogged it to win for the team.  And I felt SO badly I messed up.  :(

We were all feeling the pressure all of a sudden.  It was brutal - None of us could get out. 

Score is now 8-7.

Jennifer is left playing her match and if she wins, we win. If she loses, we go to a tie breaker at 8-8.  And that tie breaker person is yours truly.

We won the hotseat, so they would have to beat us twice and this was only the first set.  If they won the first set, then we simply play again.

I want to wait and see if the lone match left determines a tie breaker game or not, but my opponent for the tie breaker match doesn't want to wait; she wants to play.

We ask a ref if we are suppose to play, or suppose to wait. I want a ruling - why start our match if we don't have to?

A call to the head ref's table tells us we have to play.  Dang it!  lol.

However, as I look back, this was actually a good thing.  Jennifer was doing well in her safety battle on the next table.  And so all eyes would be on BOTH tables, not just a lone match had we waited.

I was pretty lucky for my teammates:  I felt no pressure.

I was calm, cool, collected.  I knew if we lost, we would just play another set. Simple as that. Therefore, I had no pressure.   It wasn't the end of the world, not the very last game of the second set. In my mind, we were still alive... no matter what.

That made all the difference in the world for me personally: I didn't feel any pressure to HAVE to win.

Sure, I wanted to win.  But as most people, I play best when I'm calm and don't sense pressure.

My opponent breaks dry.  I see that stripes are better than solids. Altho I *think* the 1 ball goes by the 8ball, it's awfully close and I'd have to cheat the pocket for the run, and so stripes looked better.

I had several choices of which stripe to take, but I choose the stripe that would break up the cluster at the bottom of the table so I could run out.

And, I missed it!  lol.

I still didn't mind, tho. I figured if she ran out, then everyone would just see what a great out it was and we would just play the second set. No biggie.

Jennifer was still in her precarious match next to me and she was safetying her opponent a lot from the 8ball.

So, since I missed the first shot, I still broke up the cluster and my opponent had an open table layout that was runable with no balls tied up. :(

I sat in my little chair and watched her run the table.   One by one she makes a stripe; then another.

Then, with only 3 strips left, she missed!   I was like, really?  Yikes!  Of course, tho, she accidentally left her ball right in front of a pocket, blocking my 2 ball and my 6 ball. She had barely missed it.

 Click to enlarge

I wanted to make her ball so my two balls would go in that pocket later, but I couldn't play that safety because her two other stripes were make able from anywhere on the table. I had no choice:  I had to go for the runout.

I played extremely slow.  Taking my time, looking at the angles, deciding in my mind what to do before executing the shots.  I also have to make sure I stay out of the way of the next table.  As I reflect back, I swear it took me 15 minutes to run out, lol.  You will see in the video link below it is much faster, but that's because it's edited, lol.

 Click to enlarge

I started my run.  I make the 3 ball, then decide to make the 5 ball and try to bump either the 2 or 6 ball.  I luckily got on the 6 ball and decided that even though it would barely fit by the 1 and 8 balls, I had to just focus on hugging the rail, and NOT hit the 1 ball so I wouldn't sell out.

I told myself to STAY DOWN.  LEVEL cue.  I nailed the long rail shot!

I then decided to shoot the 1 ball next.  I figured if the 6 ball ball went by, then the 1 ball will slide by, also... IF I again hug the rail and NOT hit the 8 ball. 

I made it, also.  :)

I was then left with a couple of choices for the 4 or 7 ball next (see cue position B in the above table).  After much deliberation, I finally decided that the tough cut on the 4 in the side was the shot, no matter how difficult it was.  Honestly, I had no choice - it was for the run; for the win.  A long straight-in shot on the 7ball for the 4 was not the right choice.  But I also had to worry about shape on the 7 ball!  The 7 ball only went in 3 pockets.  The 4 ball was a tough shot to make and then to hope to get good shape on the 7 made it that much tougher.

But... I made the tough cut in the side!  You can see in the video it barely went in, too.  Whew!

The 2 ball still had no pocket, so all along I had decided I would just bank it, but then something weird happened:  after I cut the 4 ball in the side, the cueball rolled nicely by the 7 ball and left me a great angle to get down to the 2 ball. :)

I made the 7 ball and slid down below the 2 ball and clipped it just a little.... and left myself a shot!  It was another long rail shot, but again I told myself to just stay down with a level cue.

I didn't realize where I was, what was going on.  I heard my teammates clap for my shots, heard my name a few times, "good shot, Melinda!" but I honestly never thought I would win.  That's how calm I was:  I wasn't thinking of the future.

I just didn't feel pressure.... because again - if we lost, we would just go to another set.

I made the 2 ball nicely!

Then it hit me:  If I make this 8 ball, we win.

"Just stay down, Melinda."

I hoped something crazy wouldn't happen like a kiss off a ball resulting in a stupid scratch, so I just tried tried to stop my cueball.

I made it!  I immediately jumped up and down and jumped up and down!  I then pointed my cue to the sky and said, "This is for you, Mom!!"  I started to cry as I high-fived my teammates, hugged them tightly, and smiled SO BIG from ear to ear.  There were claps and cheers from the sidelines and we were all so excited!


The final game...!!

I went over to shake my opponents' hand, and apologized for not doing so right away.  But, I knew I would do that - I react for big wins instead of shaking hands right away.  It's not right, but I am so new to winning, that I react first.  (sorry)

I was still so stunned, I told our opponents "good luck" (like they had a future match or something) instead of "good shooting" or "congratulations."  I wasn't thinking clear at all and fumbled my words.

Our whole team was SO elated!  WE WON!  We were National Champions!  Took me so long for this dream to come true and I was SO SO HAPPY!

I kept crying and crying and hugging and talking.  I was like a little rabbit on speed - I couldn't stop smiling or talking or expressing my excitement or moving around!

We had to wait almost 45 minutes to get our checks, photos, and plaques but it was worth it:  We were now National Champs!  We had a drink and toasted our win while we waited!

Teammate Connie taking the brackets for her home pool room.  :)

One of our friends from Texas was there for EVERY match - Andy.  He even changed his flight back home so he could stay for the finals. :)  Andy recognized a few times when the team was lacking energy and cohesiveness, and would get us together for a group hug.  To have someone there for us each match was amazing.

And we also got lucky that Jennifer's sister from Montana was able to come to Vegas.  Amy was there for every match Friday through Saturday and her enthusiasm for us was contagious.  :)

During the final match, the guys from OB Cues were in the stands and watched us win.  They were so supportive and it felt wonderful to hear them in the crowd!  Royce was my scotch doubles partner for two years and to hear his words of encouragement from the stands was very helpful to me.  And then when they came down to offer their congratulations and hugs afterwards meant a lot!

Jennifer's significant other was there, Shane, and he shot the video for us (thank you, Shane!) and one of Connie's good friends watched us a few times, including the finals (Ross) and he was supportive, too.

Lisa, Monica, and I's significant others were back home in Texas.  They followed our every move and watched the brackets online from afar.   They were supportive all the way from Texas! 

After we won, pool's dynamic duo, Gail Glazebrook and Tony Robles, came by and they each made me cry more as they gave me a congratulatory hug.  It was very, very sweet they stopped by after they heard we won!

The win seemed to hit everyone at different times.  Monica would cry an hour later.  It finally hit Jennifer about 1 1/2 hours later.  Connie wanted a better dinner to celebrate.  And Lisa kept smiling all night.  :)

It was one of THE most important moments in my life.  I will never ever forget the team chemistry, team dedication, and the thrill of winning such an important tournament with good friends.

It truly is A. Dream. Come. True.

The team celebrated by having a nice big meal and cozy drink at the Peppermill.  We toasted our win and ate happily.  :)

 My celebratory meal with a champagne cocktail :)

As I reflect on the night of our win to write this (long, sorry) blog entry, it seems quite amazing to me that I dogged it to win, then won it to win.  The more difficult run in the last match was obviously a lot more exciting to win on that note, than the little 3-ball out I had goofed up earlier. 

I would have loved to win no matter how, no matter who sunk the final 8ball, but I admit that final rack will be etched in my mind forever.

Of the final game, two friends commented after they saw the video:

"Holy shit!  You were at the table in the case game!

OMG.  That's amazing. 
There is nothing that can really explain how much pressure there is at that moment, and how awesome it feels to pull through.
Wow, that's just awesome.

I am SO happy for you.  "

And another friend told me:

"That was some clutch shooting right there.  On each shot you were steady as ever.  I would never have known that it was a run for the National Championships."

To remain calm and get out so well in the final match was all due because I had experiences in the last year of not staying down well, with not thinking ahead in my Oct win, with dogging it in the past from pressure.  I was able to come through for my teammates because I had been in situations before that caused me to falter.  I have been told my whole life that the second place loser is the true winner, because we learn more from our mistakes.

So, basically, I'm glad I screwed up a lot in the past so I could help the team win, LMAO!

Everyone on the team stepped up.  Everyone played good.  We all played so much better than at State.  I am kinda glad our team only placed 2nd in State - it made us play better at Nationals.  Everything happens for a reason.

Lisa made a really good point and kept expressing that she was glad she wasn't the clutch, like she normally is on her other teams.  It took the pressure off her, and she was able to focus on playing the game she loves, and not worry about letting her teammates down or letting the pressure of team play get to her.  I was happy that she was able to play and not worry - that's what we needed from her:  Her true talent to show up without interference. 

Monica unfortunately got sick from stupid Denny's (several people got food poisoning from Denny's and were literally incapacitated for 48 hours).  However, altho Monica felt bad she wasn't able to play because she was sick, she probably didn't realize her words or encouragement kept us going. She was kinda of like our personal mental coach.

I had several instances of feeling bad for my decisions based on other's remarks.  I would feel worse after bad choices or misses because people would point them out to me.  But then Monica would do the opposite:  when I ran out well, she would tell me.  "Babe, you are playing good."  Or "You are stroking so smooth, that was a nice out."  She even called me the MVP.  Awww!   I can't begin to express how much her words of encouragement kept me focused.  It's funny, when you are the clutch player, you are "suppose" to play good; it's expected.  But, words of encouragement STILL go a long way for every single player, including me who thrives on it.

Jennifer was our Rookie of the Year - she was so solid and shot so well under pressure.  She impressed us!

Connie also played great!  At State she had distractions, but at Nationals, she was able to finally play good pool.  I know that felt good to her, too!

We all meshed together perfectly for the pool-fecta:  A National Championship win!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2012 CSI Straight Pool Challenge

I entered the CSI 14.1 High Run Challenge again this year at the BCAPL Nationals.  Last year I waited til the last minute and didn't fair so well, so this year I tried it earlier.  I had an entire day off from teams (Thursday), so went down to the tourney room early that day to try my hand at the challenge.

The high run was 38, held by my wonderful and talented friend, Susan Williams.

I practiced a break shot that John Schmidt showed me last year, and then hit a few balls on the gorgeous 9 foot Diamond table.  We only were allowed to practice one rack.

 (Click to enlarge)

We get four rounds at the table, and then the score keeper tallies up the points for all 4 rounds.  There are four separate divisions: Pros, Women's, Men's Amateurs, and Seniors.  View ALL the results from by clicking here.

Okay, I started.

I scratched in the side on my first break shot!  The second break, my cueball went up table and scratch... again!  I tried a dif break shot the third time, and missed my ball!  lol.... OMG....

So I went back to my other break shot and finally had a shot after the break, but it was too long.  Score after three rounds:  2!


I got out another $20 bill and paid for another try.

I couldn't seem to get the break shot right again.  I think I got like 5-10 balls the second try at FOUR times to the table.  :(

I was determined to do better.  Last year that break shot was successful... not sure what was going on this year.

So, I get out another $20 and try at it again.

I did MUCH better this time.  I got 14 the first rack.  Then 12 the second rack. 

At this point, I realize I have more than 20.  Sweet!

I played SO SO good on the 9foot table,  If I had a shot, I made it.  I can't even begin to tell you how difficult it is to play in front of all these people like they aren't there.  But, I did it; beautifully.

John Schmidt and the Challenge Booth

Mika and Johnny Archer in the Challenge area

I made even difficult shots.  I was playing SOLID.

I tried not to think how close I was to the top 4 other ladies on the board and started my third rack out of 4.  I ran 9!

I broke the last rack not as well as the previous three and the balls didn't open up.  :(  And I only ran 4.  :( 

But, after counting all 4 innings, I had 39 points and was now in the lead!  By one, but still!  In the lead!

39 points out of 4 tries isn't that impressive, really, but it's still exciting to me because I was in the top 4 this year already!  For comparison, though, check out the scores in the Men's Amateur division below to the left:


I had three days to sweat, to see if any ladies beat my score.  Three days to watch through the crowd from the team events to see if any chicks were trying out.  Every day I'd stop by, "Did anyone beat my score?"  I'd ask as I walked up to the board to see for myself.

Several more ladies tried and contributed to the pot, but I remained in the lead!

Then Saturday afternoon I found out for sure:  I won the 14.1 Ladies Division of the CSI High Run Challenge!

OMG!  I can't believe it!  I pocked a cool 3 big bills for it, too.

I am so ecstatic.  Last year I didn't even come close, but this year I not only came close, I somehow managed to win!

Little accomplishments like this make me smile so big!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Dream Come True

Because I was in Vegas for two weeks playing in the ACS and BCAPL tourneys, I have a lot of blogs entries on my to-do list to write about for you all.

I already wrote about the first half of my trip (placed 3rd in ACS 8Ball Nationals, shared the video tour of ACS Nationals and video tour of the 3-cushoin tourney), and I have even more to write from the  BCAPL tourney because a lot happened then, too. 

Before I go into details about the many aspects of the trip, I just can't contain this news any longer!  I have to share that a dream came true for me last weekend in Vegas!

The women's team I was on, WE WON!  We went undefeated in the BCAPL 8Ball Nationals Women's Open Team event!


I am so proud to express that I am now finally a National Champion!  I am so freakin' elated, I can't stand it!  My teammates (Connie, Jennifer, Lisa and Monica) ROCKED!  We all played so well together, had great team chemistry, and we fought like the champions we became!

How's My Rack? did it!  We are National Champions!!  OMG!

(click on images to enlarge)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2012 ACS Nationals

I played in my first ACS Nationals tourney earlier this week.  Saturday morning, I was out in two (eeek!) in the 9ball division, so was pretty bummed.  I had too much on my mind and was not mentally strong at all.  Too much drama going on in my personal life to even care about pool right now. But that allowed me a day and a half of relaxation, which included a few hours in the sun and a nice dinner with my friend, Janet.  We go to a nice restaurant at the Monte Carlo.  For appetizer, we ordered "hot rocks" and we had no idea we would have to cook slices of sirloin for ourselves (we thought they cook it for us at our table)!  But it turned out to be a REALLY neat thing I'm glad I experiences:  we cook the meat literally ON hot rocks!  It was awesome.  And VERY tasty.  :)

It was a very hot rock, too!  It seared the sirloin pieces in only about 30 seconds.

the "Swim Up Black Jack table" at the Tropicana hotel pool.  The dealer just busted as I snapped this pic, lol. 

Janet and I then walked the strip on the way back to the Tropicana and we found a store with my initials!!

lol.  :)
"Get your hand off my lap!"

The ACS Nationals was held at The Tropicana Casino/Hotel.  The hotel room was nice, food expensive, casino small, but a great location on the strip and a great, fun pool.  The convention center area held the tourney and housed the almost 100 Valley tables well.  (Here is a Video Tour of ACS tournament room that I did the second day)

I wasn't sure how 8ball would go on Tuesday morning, because I wasn't mentally strong during 9ball and so therefore I was concerned.  But, being aware of the issue is always a good thing; it helps me know what I need to work on.

I got a TBA at 9am and it turned into a bye and I was moved to the next round at 10:30am.  So, I went back to my room to pack.  I had 3 free nights at The Mirage, my FAV hotel, so wanted to switch over there at the end of my tourney day.  As I waited on the bell hop,  I get a call from Janet that my match was just called.  What??  I started to get flustered as I clearly had a bye, and now I can't leave my room right away and I also need to check out still.  But a girl is waiting on me and so I feel pressured to rush down there.  The TD was super super cool and told me to take my time, because it was their mistake.

I only took about 20 minutes, but that meant we didn't start til 9:40am. The match goes hill-hill.  I get lucky she missed a shot at the end and then I won.  My next match is delayed because of the hoopla and the hill hill match, but my opponent was very nice about it. 

I won the first game beautifully!  But, as sometimes happens, a scratch, miss, and a misshape in the next three games led to her all of a sudden being up 1-3!  But, I stay in the game, focus on my fundamentals and tie it 3-3!  I miss my run out, but so does she.  I am left with a very tough shot, and decide to kick my last ball in.  I nail it!  I then have a back cut bank (my fav) on the 8 and made it nicely for the win.  Boy was I happy!

I then won at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30.  My last match I found myself down again 1-3, due to my errors.  I was bummed and ready do accept my fate, but that helped me remain calm and not think too much and I then won 4-3!  I couldn't believe it!  My opponent would tell me later that I have a lot of heart.  That was cool she said that.  I actually loved to watch her play - she has GREAT confidence and I enjoyed her pool game.

I go check the charts and I see I will be playing IN the hotseat tomorrow morning.  Really?? OMG!

I check in at The Mirage and I am ELATED!  I am in my FAV hotel/casino and I am playing in the hotseat.  WOW!  I couldn't stop smiling.  :)

The next morning, I get up early because I'm still on Texas time.  After some yoga, I try to go back to sleep for a nap and it suddenly dawns on me:  I'm going to be playing in the hotseat for a NATIONAL tourney!  Further, I may not play in this tourney again so it's my only chance.  Omg, the calm before the storm: I all of a sudden was freaked out.  To think to yourself in just a few hours you may be a National Champ is very unnerving.  And for me, who always freaks out in title tournaments anyway, made it extremely difficult for me to be mentally strong for such an important match. 

And sure enough, true to form, I did not play well in the hotseat.  I lost 0-4.  :(  My opponent shot well, but I also had a chance in every game.  I wasn't nervous, just, didn't play well at all.  I was playing timid and unconfident. 

I then played for 3rd place and while I played better this match, I still wasn't up to par and missed too many shots and my opponent made hers.  I lost 2-4.  I was SUPER bummed.  :(

Even though 3rd place in a National tourney sounds good on paper, I could only think how badly I played and didn't even give myself a chance.  To realize I have played for 20 years and I still get freaked out in title tournaments is actually disappointing.  At least I'm consistent. 

As I look back, I wish I just could enjoy myself in crucial stages.

I went to the chart to see how much I won and was shocked!  $700 for 3rd!  There were 44 girls in the tourney and I thought that was a fabulous, generous payout!  My frown turned into a little smile.

As I watched a friend play in the finals of the Super Seniors, John Lewis of ACS asks to speak to me.  I say sure and he sits next to me and asks if I will stay til the finals are over in the ladies 8ball division so they will have the top 3 places for a photo for the media.  They only send in one pic per division to the media, so if I wanted to be in the photo, I would have to stick around for at least two more hours.  I told him I didn't know what I would do, because I wanted to suntan at The Mirage pool (it was still during the afternoon). 

He replies, "Well, if you decide to go, I understand.  Just get your trophy from the front desk before your leave."

"Wait, what?  I get a trophy for third??!"

Then my smile got even bigger!  It's amazing to me how hardware makes me so happy.  :)

I debated if I should stay or go for so long, an hour had passed and they started the finals.  So, I decided to stay for the photo op.

Mandy, Susan, Me
Right after I was out, I was so upset that I posted on FB that I wasn't "championship material" out of disgust and disappointment.  Many people said otherwise and it made me feel good. But one comment in particular really made my day that I would like to share:  "Third place in a tournament and always first place in our hearts, Melinda.  Pool doesn't define you, it only compliments you." 


I am now at BCAPL Nationals and many are congratulating me on my 3rd place finish.  While I am focusing on how badly I played the last two matches, everyone else only sees I placed 3rd.  Interesting, huh? 

After some time has passed, I am starting to feel good about the finish. 3rd place at the ACS Nationals Women's 8Ball Tourney.  :)

Timing and Good Shots

Sometimes timing is not our friend when we play pool.  If you lose a close match that you didn't play well in to begin with, it doesn't really matter who you see on the way out of the tourney room (where you go to sulk), you have to try and put your decent face on while in reality, you don't want to talk to anyone.  But being in a big tourney with a thousand players, you will run into people you know who want to say hi.  Or, if people know you from the internet, they want to say hi.  "Hi Trigger!"  So I stop and say hi and be nice.  It's an act, tho, after I lose a tough match.  If they happen to catch me after I win well, I will smile big and be more talkative. 

Timing is everything.

And the person just trying to say hi has no idea you might have just lost a tough match. They are just being friendly.  And I appreciate that.

However, during a match is another thing.

When I played my second 8ball match of the day on Monday at the ACS Nationals, I am down 2-1.  I won the first game beautifully, but the two wins my opponent earned are from a tough scratch by me and then a misshape by me.  She's at the table because I missed a tough shot, and she's on a run to clear the table. 

I'm sitting on the outside of the clothed table, instead of inside the "ring" next to the pool table.  A guy sits down and watches our match for just a minute and says to me, "What's the score?"

Really?  You are obviously here watching her (I presume) and I am about to be down 1-3 and you are asking me the score??

I barely look at him and respond sharply, "2-1, her."

I look back at her making more balls and he continues, "You're Melinda, right?"

I am perturbed.  And I'm in no mood to talk.  I'm in a very critical match, upset at myself, and this guy is bothering my concentration.  Now obviously, if I was winning, I *may* not be as perturbed, but I would still want to concentrate on my match.  But in this particular match, because I'm upset with myself for giving the games away and about to be down 1-3 in a race to 4, I'm really not in a talkative, friendly mood.

"Uh, yes, how do you know me?"

Not trying to be rude, but how do you know me?  AZB forums?  From Texas?  A friend?

He says, "I know Sophie and Kawania and you double dipped Kawania in the finals of the ACS Texas State. I'm from San Antonio."

"Oh, hi.  What is your name?"  I ask.

He tells me and then I turn back to the match to try to concentrate back on my game. 

He keeps talking to me, tho, and I am not happy about it.  I can't remember all that he said, because I was trying to focus on the game.

The girl gets out and it's my break.  On the way back, I sit down on the inside of the "ring" because I really don't want to be in a convo in the middle of my match.  While what he said sunk in, "I double dipped Kawania," I just wanted to focus on my fundamentals and get back into this race to 4.

I won a game and I'm inching closer. 

As I sit there while she breaks, I think to myself I need to apologize to this guy after the match for being quiet and rude.  I tell myself, "Even if you lose, you need to be the proper competitor and explain yourself and apologize, " even though if I lose I'm gonna want to leave the tourney room right away to vent to my b/f on the phone.

I win another game and tie the match up 3-3!

I try to run out but miss the 6 ball before the 8ball to get shape.  Ugh! 

She tries to runs out... but misses the 8ball!

She leaves me bad (i.e., good) lol.  I have to play safe or kick at my ball, but I don't see a good safe with her 8ball is hanging near a pocket. 

The "rule" is if the safe and the tough shot are about the same percentage-wise, then you are to go with the shot.  I would have to play an extremely soft, tricky safe to hope I hook her.  The other option, the kick, I know the 8ball makes the pocket bigger for my 6 ball.

I decide on the kick.

And I make it!!

I'm elated! 

The 6ball does indeed go off the 8ball, and so that little carom moves the 8ball up on the rail and now I have a backwards bank, but guess what?  That's one of my favorite shots.  :)

And I make it!!

I am so elated and excited, I went and quickly hugged the guy who was annoying me, lol.  I immediately sit down and apologize.  He said he understood, but I told him I just wasn't happy with myself and I was trying to concentrate.

He was cool about it.

He then took his cues out because we were on his table; turns out that's why he was sitting there:  his next match was on our table.  Duh!

I really hate that people bother me, but I try to be nice when I'm trying to concentrate in the middle of a match, but I admit it's not always easy for me to always be proper at all times. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Weather Girl Story

People are surprised when they find out I have a career, and what it is.  Being a pool player, most of the people I'd meet in the bars at my age in the 90s didn't exactly have a career or profession.  I was one of the exceptions back then.  And then when people would find out what my career is, they would be even more shocked.

But I think how I became a Meteorologist, is the bigger story.

I was going to write how I became a Meteorologist on my personal blog, but the people who know me personally as ME, know me over here on my pool blog.  So, I'm taking the plunge to share some details how it was meant to be I became a meteorologist.

It's funny, everyone has a weather story when they find out what I do for a living. Kind of like pool, when I tell people my passion is pool, they all tell me how good they are. ;)

First of all, I am not on any TV channel; I am not a weather person on TV.  I get asked that the most.  The second most common question is, "what is that star?" as the person looks up into the sky, pointing.  That's an astronomer.  I am a meteorologist:  "the science dealing with the atmosphere and its phenomena, including weather and climate."

So how does one become a meteorologist?   For most people, it's usually the love of the weather; and most specifically, severe weather.  Many people have an extreme interest for weather and all that comes with it, even tornado chasing. I, however, firmly believe weather found me.

My Mom owned some land in the Texas Hill Country about an hour and a half from where I grew up in San Antonio.  Near Garner State Park/ Uvalde/ Concan.  If you've ever been lucky enough to visit the area, you know how beautiful and memorable the Texas Hill Country is.

My Mom and I would go the Frio River almost every weekend when I was a child, literally.  I swam in the Frio River, hiked all around the area, and camped out with my Mom for years and years.  Even when my Mom remarried, we would still go out there every other weekend.  We would camp out and float on The Frio River from when I was about 8 years old to 14 years old (about the time we don't want to do things with our parents anymore).

Photo I took of the Frio River, in the Texas Hill Country.

My Mom would start to look at the forecast about Wednesday of every week to see if the weather was good enough for us to go away for the weekend.  She did this for YEARS.  One day I finally told her, "Mom, I will just become a meteorologist so I can tell you the weather."  Little did I know that would seal my fate.

In 7th grade we had career day, but for some reason, each class only got one professional.  One!  I still do not know why to this day only one professional came to each class, instead of them visiting all the classes throughout the day.  Anyway, my class happened to get, yep, a meteorologist.

In high school, I applied to about 7 colleges across Texas.  The first college to reply back to me was Texas A&M (okay, the only one, even tho I graduated 11th in my class out of 650). 

I accepted! 

I went through A&M's long list of courses and numerous majors (a HUGE book) and as I was flipping through, trying to decide what I wanted to major in, I saw they had a meteorology degree.  I thought to myself, "I always said I would be one." 

So, that's what I majored in:  Meteorology.

Little did I know.... that Texas A&M is the ONLY undergraduate school in Texas with a meteorology degree!  THE only one. 

And that was the only college that got back to me.

The National Weather Service was looking for summer interns and I sadly accepted an intern position in San Antonio the second summer of college.  I was sad because I had to forgo my "fun" job being a camp counselor at the YMCA. But that would be one of the most important choices in my life. 

I was a summer intern at the National Weather Service in San Antonio for 2 summers. 

BTW, there are not a lot of forecast offices in Texas, but I happened to live in a city that had one!  It was destiny.

When I graduated college in August, that Forecast Office kept a forecaster position open for me for two months until I graduated.  If I hadn't of put my foot in the door as an intern, I wouldn't have got that position.  That set me up for three promotions over the span of 10 years.

You don't meet a meteorologist every day, huh?  Our jobs affect every one's life every day; be it a construction worker, Mom at home with the kids, or driving to work. 

I currently am in middle management and LOVE my job.  I enjoy going to work every day (I'm very lucky to love what I do and have great bosses).   I used to forecast the weather (for about 6 years in Texas and 2 in Florida) and that was easier to describe,  Now, I help forecasters do their jobs with new polices and implement procedures.  (Btw, I've been working with the NWS for 20 years.)

It's always amazed to me how it all came about that I became a meteorologist. It was destined. I firmly believe the path was chosen for me.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Video Tour: 2012 ACS Nationals in Vegas

I am currently at the 2012 ACS Nationals at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.  :)  As I wrote before, this is my first ACS Nationals and I booked this trip because it's only a few days before the BCAPL Nationals, so it made sense to try to go to both on one plane ride.

Well..... I didn't do well in my first event (9-ball singles)....out in TWO!  :(  I am super bummed, but TRYING not to let it get me down in my favorite city.

I just wasn't into the two matches I played.  I am so mentally drained from a lot of personal things that have been going on the last four weeks, that am just not mentally strong enough to compete and focus right now. 

I pray and hope that the 8 ball event goes better for me tomorrow.  I honestly am not sure how it's going to go; and afraid I may not show up again.  But, I hope I somehow can be more focused and more into the matches.  Just being concerned I may not mentally "show up" will be good for me, if that makes sense.  Means I am aware already of what I need to work on tomorrow if I become too nonchalant.

But, in the meantime!  Here is a Video Tour of the tourney room of the 2012 ACS Nationals at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.  Please ignore my sunburn, but I still had to do a video tour for you all.  :)

Video Tour: 2012 USBA National 3-Cushion Championships

I'm at the ACS National Championships in Vegas at the Tropicana Casino right now.  Besides the ACS Nationals being held, the ACS is also hosting the 2012 USBA National 3-Cushion Championships, May 6-10, right here at the Tropicana!

To see this beautiful room with 8 gorgeous three-cushion tables is almost a bucket list item!  My boyfriend LOVES three cushion and I sure wish he was here to watch all these great matches and shots.  He would be in heaven. 

Bob Watson, from from Virginia Beach, Virginia, would also be very happy to see such an important and amazing tourney.  Bob recently he mailed me a copy of Bill "Mr3Cushion" Smith's Book and DVD set, “The Concise Book of Position Play."  Thank you, Bob!

Have to share the only way I know how:  Video Tour of the amazing tourney room during the first round of the tourney.  Enjoy!

Team League Surprises

This year was like every year for me regarding my league preferences:  I try to find a league to play on to qualify my women's team for BCAPL State in April and Nationals in May, and to qualify myself and a partner for scotch doubles.  I don't like to play league to help others out, or to spend my nights in rusty bars for no purpose, nor do I like to drive over an hour to play in leagues.  Did I mention I don't like traveling leagues either?  lol.

Therefore, my goal is simple:  One league to qualify for State and Vegas.

While playing in only one league may seem very selfish, it took Oprah 40 years to finally say "no" (lol) and I am at that point.  I simply can't stay out late every night to help others like I used to.  And I was grumpy as I drove too far during the week for several leagues that didn't have good end of season money, or big tourneys to play in.

Well, this year there were A LOT of surprises!

First, something crazy happened this year:  I enjoyed my team SO much!  The co-captain for my women's team (JennyPav or "FunBus" (what I like to call her)), found us a team and league that all our female players could qualify for Vegas on.  It was a guy's team and they were looking for players, and they welcomed us 5 chicks with open arms (and also my b/f plays who is a really good player).  I didn't know any of the team members, and I was just going through the motions to reach our goal:  qualify our ladies for State and Vegas.

BUT, I had SO much fun with this team!  I laughed more this season than I have in years playing league!  We would spend 3 hours together every other Sunday afternoon (roughly) for six months or more, and they guys were a lot of fun and so enjoyable to be around.

My b/f is already very funny, but the other guys were also very humorous.  They would all make fun of each other and we laughed and had so much fun while kicking A$$.  It was a very pleasant surprise and I will actually miss them the next couple of months while the league is on hiatus.  :(

The hours on Sunday allowed for all ten of us to get to know each other better and we all have a greater respect for each others game, and also keep having fun every where we might meet up.  The league family extends to the wives, too, and I have enjoyed my new friendships!

While this was a traveling league, I still didn't mind because the team members always made me laugh and kept  me entertained.  I actually looked forward going to league; which hasn't happened in years.

The other surprise tho, were the payouts.  When I first joined, I was asked how I felt about the playoffs.  "We want you and your b/f to play in the playoffs of the league because you both are top shooters, but do you agree that only the players of the team who play in the playoffs should get paid for that tourney?"

"Of course," I replied.  Well, that was obvious. 

But later on in the season (around when we find out about the playoff dates) I find out that there is no end of season team money.  Only money from the playoffs.

Uh, do what?? 

So, I pretty much agreed that the 6 players who would play in the playoffs, would get money (if we placed well, which we should) and the other 4 would not get money.  I was upset about how all this would end up, but agreed to this at the beginning of the year, so I was kinda stuck. 

If I would have known that the end-of-season tourney was the only way the team made money, I don't now if I would agree to that again.  All TEN of us helped us make it to the top three in our division.  All TEN of us helped us get a bye the first weekend of the playoffs.  And now, those 4 wont get any money, because they aren't playing in the payoffs.  Really?  :(
To top it off, one of the teammates helped secure one of the weekends so it didn't conflict with a big women's stop.  And yet, she wasn't one of the ones who would play with us in the playoffs.  It was all very unfortunate and very unexpected from my point of view.

We placed 4th (or 5th) in the playoffs and the 6 of us each receive $142. 

Then, my b/f and I go to the king/queen of the hill end of season tourney where they gave out awards, monies, top shooter things, etc.  None of the 4 team members who didn't play in the playoffs came.  I don't blame them.  Why show up?  I think many had other plans for the weekend and they didn't deliberately decide not to come, but it still bothered me.

Then, surprise number 3 happened!  Turns out it was true that the team got paid via how we placed in the playoffs, BUT, I found out that each team member received $1 for every win during the SEASON!  Therefore, all teammates DID indeed get money!  Although it was from the range of $30 to $80, each team member did get cash!  Heck, I've been on most league teams that are usually in last place (or close) and have literally deposited a check for $2.50 before, lol.  So, a dollar win for 8 weeks played wasn't too shabby at all and was better than nothing like I thought for sure!

Not sure what we are gonna do next year.  Depends on how the ladies team does in Vegas (if we place too high, we can't play in the Open), how the team members do individually (we all play well enough to move our rankings), etc.  I would love to be on the same Sunday team with the fun guys again, but many of the players "want their Sunday's back" so we may have to look at other alternatives.

Still, BEST season yet of league!  I love laughing and sure needed it the last 8 months.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Banned Team Names

Looks like I wouldn't be able to have a ladies team in the APA.  

Check out this list of banned team names!

They would never allow We've Got the Runs, or What The Heck, or No Holes Barred, or How's My Rack?  (my last 4 ladies team names).  WOW!

Some, I don't even understand why they are on the list!  smh...

Essentials for Vegas in SuitCase

Haven't really packed yet for Vegas, I mean, not completely.  I leave tomorrow night.... Eeeek!  But the 3 most important things for my trip are now in my suitcase!!

Yoga mat, cue/case, and my bathing suit.  :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Winning and Losing and Expectations

My friend always tells me, "winning or losing doesn't define you."  I love that quote from her.

Let's face it, we care what others think, and the expectations we have for ourselves (and for what others might think) can affect our play.

Many mental toughness books talk about our expectations and our "status".  We instead should focus on playing the best to our ability and only concentrate and focus on our pre-shot routine, not thoughts unrelated to the very reason we play pool, which inhibit and paralyze our abilities.  However, sometimes that is tough to do.  But these two quotes are very helpful to counter that, imo:

I'll say it again: 
"Winning or losing doesn't define me."
While reading some excerpts of Pleasures of Small Motions, I came across this one powerful little paragraph that I just HAVE to share:
"What are you really scared of? Remember that no one crucial to your happiness is going to hurt or abandon you for winning or losing, for making a brilliant shot or a bad one.... "