Friday, June 29, 2012

Scotch Doubles in Vegas

Still trying to catch up on the many blogs topics that magically entered into my two-week jaunt to Vegas in May.  :)

I entered the Scotch Doubles tourney of the BCAPL Nationals and as usual, it's one of my favorite parts of the BCAPL Nationals experience!

This year didn't pan out so well.  When I found out my boyfriend couldn't go to Vegas because of work, I asked the top shooter of my league if he would be interested.  Altho he was surprised I asked him, he said yes. 

He wasn't someone who regularly went to BCAPL Nationals, but had been there before. He made plans to drive with his cousin and seemed pretty excited about the tourney, every time I saw him during the rest of the league season for the next 4 months.

In Vegas, on the Thursday morning of the Scotch Doubles event, I texted my partner to let him know we play at 7pm that night (in other words, we didn't have a bye).  That was about 10am.  I hadn't heard from him yet, and had hoped he was just sleeping in from the drive with his cousin.

I was staying at the Mirage (one of my FAV casinos) and slept in, slowly checked out, ate one last time at the delicious buffet before moving my things over to The Riv.  I had decided to also walk through the dolphin sanctuary and check out the white tigers.  I paid my $20-something fee and went in.  I walked toward the awesome, crystal clear pool that had swimming adult AND baby dolphins (SO CUTE!).

I love to be around nature and strongly feel it provides good aura to my mental state, so I knew being around the animals out in a nature setting would be a good thing for my next week of intense play.

Just as I walked in, I got a text.  It started with, "I don't know how to tell you this...."  My partner basically told me he wasn't going to make it to Vegas.  WHAT?!   I immediately freaked out, not sure what to do.  I no longer took my time by the dolphins, even tho I wanted to, but instead hastily made my way toward the white tiger kingdom as I texted him back, hoping it was a joke (b/c he does joke a lot).

Turns out he was serious.  He had more than one family emergency that came up and pool hadn't even crossed his mind.  While, I, of all people understand family emergencies, I was still shocked I was just now hearing he wouldn't coming to Vegas the day OF the scotch doubles event.  I told him I was sorry for what he was going through.. and then started my quest.

I needed to find a partner quick; someone, somehow.  In my frantic state, I can only think of ONE guy who I saw yesterday who is here in Vegas from my league who wasn't playing scotch doubles.  I didn't even know if I could switch partners, but I had to TRY. 

Several texts later, I get the guys phone number.  His name is Blas and I only know him from seeing him around, I don't think I've ever really spoke to the man before.

I tried to call him, but there was not a good signal in the Tiger section.  I moved to the Dolphin pool; nothing there either.  I had to leave.  I was there about ten minutes, but had to leave.  I then make frantic calls from the cab.  Blas said he would play with me but I had to find out from the front desk of BCAPL IF they would even allow such a chance so late.

The lady was extremely nice at BCAPL and took care of everything for us.  Blas was in!  I called him back and told him we play at 7pm.  His response was, "I'm going down to practice then."  How cute!  While relieved I had a partner, I was still trying to calm myself down from all the hassles and the rushing.

We had a TBA at 7pm and so got that win, then met back up at 9pm for our first real match.  I was very nervous for some reason and wanted to play good for him, instead of being confident like I should have.  We lost hill-hill!  Our opponents were very good, and although we played good, we lost hill-hill. 

We then played at 9am.  We won at 9am and then 10:30am.  We played good together!  I was much more confident and played much better than the previous night.  However, we lost our noon match, again hill-hill.  We played good, but our opponents were also good.  Both teams we lost to placed 13th!  So, they weren't schmucks, they were really good players and made great teammates.  We gave them both a run for their money for sure.

Blas woke up at 5am and ate a good breakfast and also practiced before our 9am match.  You see, Blas is 74 years old!  The man looks like he's in his 50s, MAYBE 60s.  He exercises every day, plays pool for his income (tourneys around town), and lives on his own.  He also has diabetes and keeps it in check by eating properly and checking his blood sugars. 

He had lots of great stories he shared with me and he is an extremely positive person and a very talented pool player.  Being 74, he's seen a lot, been through a lot in life, and also had a good outlook on life.  His positiveness was contagious and I LOVE to be around positive people! 

I did see one other guy later on Thursday that was from our league that I could have played with.  While it was a toss up on who I would place farther in the tourney, I made the right chose because I learned about LIFE from Blas.  

Before this event, Blas was "just a guy on my league."  Now, we are friends.  :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That Loving Feeling

I played in an 8ball Scotch Doubles tourney last weekend.  And it felt SO GOOD!

Although I have played in two other weekly 8ball tourneys since May, for some reason, this day felt wonderful to be back on the table.  I felt like I hadn't played in ages, and I just so love me some good 8ball!

Many people congratulated me on our Women's Team National Champ win and I could hear whispers as I played, but I didn't feel pressure, I felt, dare I say, a little powerful?

When I won the ACS State in October, afterwards I felt like I was under a microscope.  I felt like everyone expected me to automatically win all my league matches and the weekly tourneys.  I put SO much pressure on myself to play up to par that everyone expected of me, because I won that tourney.   Instead, I faltered.

Most people are aware that it is tough to repeat another big win right away after your first win, or sometimes to even play really well right after.  You FEEL so much pressure on yourself, that it's tough to accomplish another big win immediately.

I have witnessed this with my own eyes.

Back in 1999 in Florida, a fellow competitor won a Ladies Spirit Tour event.  Everyone was elated for her; it was her first tourney win!  In the very next event, however, she got in the loser's side right away and many people discussed that this was actually quite normal - it would be tough for her to place well again right away; it's a lot of pressure.  And sure enough, after some time had passed, the pressure was lifted and she was back in the finals.

IMO, this is definitely true after your first big win.  But once you get a few wins under your belt, you feel less pressure and you feel more confident, composed, and certain. 

So, back to my weekend tourney.  I didn't feel pressure to do well.  I didn't feel like I *should* play  well b/c of my recent big win.  Instead, I felt like I *can* play well; like I'm suppose to now.

“Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” - Stan Smith

Back in Oct, after my win, my feelings and sensations were very different.  I felt so much pressure to play well and succeed at league and weekly tourneys.  After all, I was now a "State Champ."  People watched me play and expected me to magically not miss.  Well, *I* thought they expected that, lol.  I was a mess, really, for a while.  All the pressure of hearing over and over again "State Champ" got to me; I put too much pressure on myself.

However, hearing the whispers as I played last Saturday about being a National Champion didn't faze me.  Like I said, I was in a good place mentally and I didn't feel any pressure to play good or show that I was indeed a National Champ.  Instead, I just simply LOVED playing the game I love so much.  I enjoyed the competition and relished the congrats; instead of the kudos backfiring. I really believe that the win in Oct, my successful run in Reno, and the recent team win is helping my confidence.

BTW, my boyfriend and I only placed 4th in the Scotch Doubles tourney.  boo-hiss! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Team Photo in Our Home Room - Diamond Jim's

One of my teammates, Lisa, enlarged our BCAPL 2012 Women's Open Team winning photo for Carl, the owner of Diamond Jim's in Arlington, Texas.  She sent me a pic of it, but I couldn't tell how large it really was.  Then she said she was going to frame it in with barn wood, and I wasn't sure what that looked like.

There was  a Scotch Doubles tourney at Diamond Jim's on Saturday that I played in and so Lisa brought the framed photo by.  OMG!  It was beautiful!  So much more awesome than I imagined!

Here are some photos.  I hope you can tell how large it is.  Carl is standing near it, and also hanging it up in the photos.  He pretended to be shy and not excited, but I think as the day went on and he had to find a place to hang it, he became more proud.

Diamond Jim's was our home pool room and Carl even bought us our shirts.  We were SO happy someone took a little interest in our team and helped us out.  And turns out we WON!  And now Carl is the proud owner of a National Champ photo.  :)


My b/f and I placed a disappointing 4th in the tourney, but he gambled afterwards so we were there for about 12 hours.  And I kept looking at the photo hung up on the wall.  And I shamefully admit, I was PROUD!  I smiled a lot and was extremely moved he hung it up so quickly.  :)  Even as I type this, I'm overwhelmed with happiness.  It is SO dang cool!!

At one point in the evening, a drunk guy asked Carl, "Could they have printed it any bigger?" making fun of the enlargement.  I immediately said, "Hey, don't knock!"  And then my boyfriend asked him, "Have you won a National Championship??"

While people may make fun, it's still, to this day, and forever will be, an amazing accomplish for all us women on the team!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Women's Team Answers

Many people keep asking my women's team members what our plans are for next year.  Since we won the Women's Open division in the BCAPL Nationals Tourney, what exactly does that mean for us?

Do we have to play in the Masters team division?  Do we all move up?  Can we play together in the Open next year?  What?

Long story short, we are going to split up so we can play in the Open again.  How can we do that?  Read below for all the details, and also why we chose this option:

According to the BCAPL website (see page 11 here), the Advancement Criteria for the Team events is as follows:

"Players who finish as listed below in the Teams Divisions will be moved to Advanced status. Players may petition to be lowered back to Open status based on their history in singles play or known ability."

  • Top 16 Men’s Mixed Open Team
  • The Top 4 Women’s Open Team
  • Top 4% Men’s Mixed Advanced Teams

Therefore, because we won the Women's Division, all the members of my team became Advanced Player's!

We were all designated Open Player's before the event, but after placing 1st in the team event, we all became Advance Player's.

A Women's Open Team can only have one Advanced Player on their team, the remaining members must all be Open Player's.  So, if we decided to stay together, we would have move up to the Master's Women's division next year.

However, as the BCAPL stated, "Players may petition to be lowered back to Open status based on their history in singles play or known ability."

Therefore, my teammates and I emailed Bill Stock of the BCAPL and gave our individual stats of how we each placed in the singles event.  It was pretty obvious we can only place well as a team, lol, because our singles results were pretty bad.  haha!

Bill Stock emailed us back and after he looked at our individual stats, he moved us all back to "Open" status for singles.

But then he added, "As you know, only two of you may return on the same team in the Open Division. That also applies to the high finishing teams you played on in the past."

So, while we were happy we were all moved back to the Open division for Singles, it meant if we wanted to play in the Open Women's Team event, we would have to split up.

Instead of competing in the Master Division, we are indeed going to split up so we can try and compete in the Women's Open again. We just don't feel strong enough yet to play in the Women's Masters Team event.

It's very sad to have to break apart such an amazing group of women, but it's something we have to do and we will survive it.

While we already knew this rule would affect us, even as we played IN the hotseat in Vegas - that we would have to probably split up next year - and so it made the win even more bitter sweet.  

Lisa and I will stay together because we live closest to each other in Fort Worth, and Monica and Jennifer will stay together because they live in Dallas (the two cities are one hour apart and it makes for qualifying in the same league difficult). Connie had decided already not to play next year, and since we can only have two members of the team be on a team together, it worked out with 5 people.

This group of women helped me create a life-long amazing memory, and a dream come true.  I'm gonna miss playing with them.  :(  But, we are forever bonded as National Champs!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Executive Airline Clubs Include Billiards

Saw this article a while back and found it most interesting!

Since today I seem to be sharing many media stories related to billiards, I have to include this!

The above pic is from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London. Below is another pic from the article, but I'm not sure where this one is located (maybe it's just a mock-up):

Either way, pretty cool to be able to play pool on our layovers!  For the professionals who travel most among us, I bet they would be elated.

Here is the link to the entire article:  Executive Clubs: Which Admirals Clubs Have the Best Perks

All photos copyright of

RIP Dawn Fital: Pool Players' Murderer Found Guilty

Dawn Fital was a fellow pool player who lived in Michigan.  She went missing in early June 2011, then shortly found murdered.  Her murderer (whose name doesn't deserve to even be mentioned in my blog) was finally found guilty earlier this month.

Although it's important that Dawn's friends and family finally have SOME solace that her murderer was convicted, I want everyone to remember Dawn for who she was, not "what happened to her."

Please read the amazing, thoughtful, heartfelt and warming comments from friends and family here.  Also, 48 Hours also has some comments from friends and family. 

She should be remembered for the awesome person she was to her friends, family, and fellow pool players.

I want her to know she is still thought of.  Still loved and cherished.  And that her friends and family miss her so much, it's unbearable for them.

You see, Dawn was not just a fellow pool player, she was a Mother of four.  I know what her kids are going through, as it's been ten months since my Mom passed and it's been the toughest 10 months of my life.  However, they had to hear and read what a horrible death Dawn received from this monster (her b/f).  I honestly don't know if her children will ever get a full nights sleep; I don't think I could.

RIP Dawn.  You are loved.  And we all miss you.  Even though I never met you, pool brought us together through the love of the game. 

Angelina Paglia on CNN

Have you seen this yet?  If not, my beautiful friend (and female pro pool player) is highlighted on national TV!

I so love it when billiards gets mainstream attention, even for a little while.  :)

Angelina Paglia on CNN Road Warriors:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interesting Rule Change

While many people may be talking about the new rule in the BCAPL rule book that lifts the ban on phenolic tips on break cues (read that Press Release here), my thoughts are more so on this ruling change:

SubSection 2, From Section 1-16 of the 2012-2014 Official Rules of the BCA Pool League: (the change is in bold and italicized)

You may only call one ball on a shot. If you call more than one ball, or if you use any conditional phrase such as “just in case” concerning more than one ball, your inning ends after the shot regardless of whether you pocket any ball. Any ball pocketed on such a shot is an illegally pocketed ball. Your opponent accepts the table in position.

So I can no longer say, "just in case, I'm calling the 5 ball into the 6 ball" because I really am not sure if I can make it or not. 

Dang!  That's such a common thing for us unsure pool players to say, lol.

Also, how uncomfortable is it going to be if someone says that and I have to call them on it?  Eeeek.  They are going to look at me like I'm crazy.

Even now, still not every knows that even obvious combos are suppose to be called.  Even though it's in the rule book, it's a very tough rule to call someone on.

However, the new change above I think will be just as tough to call someone on; if I can do it at all.

I hope I remember this new rule!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Final Score Sheet

2012 BCAPL National 8Ball Women's Open Team last Score Sheet - the Finals!

"Monsters, Inc." versus "How's My Rack?"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Negative Comments

It's amazing to me the comments people say.  Why say negative things?  Seriously?  Why?  Why point out obvious mistakes?

As usual, there are some unfortunate things that happen during tournaments.  But, that's the way competition goes. 

This year, I not only expressed myself more than usual, I also seriously evaluated more the "whys" of my feelings and thoughts.  While I despise negative comments, and while this blog is pretty much one big whine fest, I am still glad a lot of negative things have happened so I could try to control my thoughts better.

Practice makes perfect, right?

I found myself reacting, then moving on quickly.  I also found myself rationalizing the words I heard, which helped as well.

In other words, instead of just feeling and reacting (badly) to the raw, negative emotions from the negative words I heard, I instead tried to think about why I was bothered.  Then I tried to rationalize my feelings.  It really helped me overcome my downward spiraling thoughts.

And let's face it, we have enough pressure to play well and enough inner demons to deal with, so it's beneficial to our pool game to try and not let outside influences affect our mental game even more.

The reason for this blog entry:

Back in May, I watched a men's team (from my area) play in the BCAPL Open's Team event of the National Championships in Vegas.  I knew 2 of the guys on the team, but the other 4 I had never seen compete before.

I saw one of the teammates I didn't know (let's call him "NJ") verbally expressed his excitement for good shots, but also his discontent of his fellow teammates when they messed up.  I was MORTIFIED!  How does a teammate hit a wall after a fellow teammate misses?  How does he verbally assault his own player with crappy comments if they miss?

While I appreciated his enthusiasm and support of his teammates when they would get to the table, but God forbid you make a mistake because he WILL say something out loud.  To you.  In front of your teammates.  In front of the other team.  In front of all the bystanders.

After I witnessed this, I was VERY concerned about him watching our women's teams matches.  He had already watched a few games and I figured he might watch some more.  Sure enough, I saw NJ at breakfast in the Cafe on Friday morning and he wanted to know what time our match was so he could watch.

O.  M.   G.

I tried not to let it bother me.  I really did.  I tried not to even think that he *might* show up to the match.

I had even told one of my teammates as soon as I saw him act like that, "if he says anything during our matches, I'm gonna ask him to leave."  She replied, "do it if you have to."

Sure enough, NJ and a couple of his teammates show up to our first match of the second day of the Women's Open event.

I was up first and I admit I was proud of myself for not even thinking about him while at the table.  I have had MANY situations in the past where I'm standing at a table, and wondering what an audience member is thinking of my choices.  This time, I was only thinking about pool. I didn't care who was in the crowd.

I made a bad decision on my 3rd ball left and HOOKED myself on the 8ball.  I knew as soon as I shot the shot before, I had made the wrong decision.  I didn't listen to my gut.  And, so I got hooked with a bad shot.

Luckily, the ball before the 8ball was "in the hole" and I just had to a kick long rail bank to make it.  I felt no pressure and made it.

This left, however, for a VERY long straight-in, tough shot on the 8ball, with the cueball pretty much on the rail. 

I got down on the shot, took my time, stayed down, smooth stroke, and MADE IT!

I couldn't believe it!  I was so elated.  It really was a very tough shot!

High fives all around and then I sit down with my teammates, and I couldn't stop smiling.  :)

The smile quickly ended.

NJ says, "nice kick, but you should have shot the 2ball before the 5ball."

I interrupted, "Really?  You're gonna say that to me?  I'm in the middle of a match right here...."

He stopped talking and I was very upset.

I leaned to my teammate, "I'm gonna have to ask him to leave.  I don't want to be bothered by him when I'm trying to play.  I do NOT want to be thinking about being judged while I'm at the table."

"I'll support you, ask him to leave.  It wont bother me."

That was her way of saying without saying, that he can sometimes bother her, too.

I had to get more off my chest.  I told her," I'm serious.  If I think someone is questioning my decisions, I wont be able to play well and will be second guessing my choices," I confided.

I'm suppose to be the clutch player, I don't need anymore pressure than I already had!

Eventually, I guess he left because I never had to ask him to leave.

I just simply DO NOT GET IT.  Why freakin' say that to me?  Why point out a negative?  Why not wait and *maybe* discuss it with me later?  Is he trying to point out I'm wrong?  Or is he just trying to point out he's right?  Does he *really* think telling me what I did wrong and what I should have done will help me play better?

Listen, all it does it make me question myself.  Makes me contemplate what I *think* others *think* I should do.

I was already very aware I made a mistake.  Hello?  I HOOKED MYSELF!  Yes, I don't need to be pointed out what I did badly; I knew already.  Pointing it out does NOT make it better for me; or anyone.  No one that I know of plays better being told they messed up.  And then, to do it in front of people?  Is that really motivation?  No, it's just embarrassment.  Was he trying to show off that he knows best? 

I don't understand. 


Why say something AT ALL like that?  Why not just clap and be thankful I even kicked the ball in and then made the tough shot?  Does it help his ego?  Does he think he's helping?  Seriously?

For the rest of my life, I will not ever like this guy watching me play pool.  Ever.

Even when a teammate expressed a mistake I made, it made me feel bad.  I do NOT thrive on people pointing out mistakes or negativity. 

I realize I've wrote about this before, but I'm still so shocked when it happens.  It takes such strong mental capacity for me to overcome things like this.

I am proud of myself, though.  I really handled my thoughts better during the women's team event.  I tried not to let things get to me like they used to in the past.  I tried to rationalize why I thought the way I was thinking, which helped me get over comments or situations faster than usual.

Sure, things still bothered me.  But, for some reason I overcame them with either methodical thinking, rational thinking, or by venting to someone.

My mental toughness became more solid as time went on during the event.  It's a great feeling.

Still - I don't like to be embarrassed or mistakes pointed out.  Duh!

I fully admit there IS a time and place for such things to improve and learn.  But in the middle of a match is not the place nor the time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Status and Labels

Our status defines us.  Or, does it?

What others might see as which "label" we should be, we may not agree with.  Some may have finished high enough in a national tourney to now be a defined as a "Master" or an "Advanced" player. 

But, what do you think of yourself?

Do you think your status is accurate?  And does it help you or hurt you?

For me, it's easy.

I'm defined by the leagues as an "Open" player.  While this year I was one finish away in the Open singles at BCAPL to be moved up to an "Advanced" player, I was still short of that status.  I'm still an Open player.

When I placed 9th in the BCAPL Women's Open and became a Master player in 2001 for 2 whole years, I don't know how I did that.  Sure, I played more pool back then and so I finished higher in many tourneys across Texas, but it's amazing to me how much more exponentially knowledgeable I am about the game today.  How did I do that back then?

Is pool cyclical?

We go through life and sometimes pool is on the forefront and we place well in many tourneys.  Then, things in life happen and maybe we don't play as much anymore.  And while we may not place as high as we did before, we are still semi-decent players.  Then life presents us with another opportunity to play lots of pool and we start to excel again.  And we learn more about the game than we ever have before!  We may not place higher, but we still play pool well (even... better).

Someone asked me in Vegas how it feels to be defined as an Open player, but everyone thinks I should be a Master.  Or, at the very least, an Advanced player (by definition).  My answer was simple:

"It doesn't bother me."

I shared with my friend that while I agree my physical skills may be at a Master level, my mental skills are not there yet.  I think I should be an Open player based on my mental game. 

I still struggle with pressure, expectations, nerves, future-thinking, wants, etc. My mental game is gooey, compared to my physical game.

If I didn't get nervous or if I could overcome my fears and pressure, I think I would have won many state tourneys by now, or even an OB Cues Ladies Tour stop!

I haven't "mastered" that part of my game. Although I've made much progress, and have come a long way, I still have mental obstacles. I obviously still struggle with my fundamentals every now and then, too. Therefore, I am fine with where I am right now: an Open Player.

I have the skills physically and the knowledge of Master players and also a lot of tournament experience, but mentally, I feel like I'm not there yet. 

I do wonder though - will I ever be "there"? 

Will I ever perfect my physical and mental game to where one day I don't say I still struggle with pressure or still jump up?  I think working on my game is part of the journey and whether a Master or Advanced or Grand Master, I will always be working on things.

I honestly think I could easily be a Master player.  I can't even imagine myself  to the point where I could be MORE than a Master.  I can't even fathom that.  Grand Master?  Me?  Nah.  I can't see myself playing at the pro level.  Master?  Advanced?  Sure.

I feel I'm getting better and better little bit by little bit, all the time, though.  It feels good.  :)  I hope it continues.

If I get more wins under my belt, and overcome that invisible pressure I put on myself, I think I will easily place high enough in a nationals tourney to be officially defined as a Master player again some day (soon).

Until then, this is who I am.  And I'm very okay with that.

And let's talk about the elephant in the room.  An Open player has more opportunities to play in tournaments.  I can play in the leagues' Texas State tourneys and in local scotch doubles tourneys.  I can play on an Open Women's Team next year.  I can play in the Open Scotch doubles next year in Vegas for BCAPL with my boyfriend.  I don't have to give up weight in certain tourneys because I'm still an Open player.

There ARE benefits to being labeled an "Open" player.  When I become a Master player, I will embrace it and be extremely honored, but until then, I need to take advantage of the fact I am an Open player that plays pretty sporty. 

I have a friend who is a Grand Master and she is almost penalized for her high finish in the Master's division a year ago.  She cannot play in many tourneys, including even on Open men's Teams or Master Scotch Doubles with certain people. 

I would be limited as an Advanced Player, but even MORE limited as a Master player.  So, when that times comes (and I truly believe that time will come), I will embrace it for what it means:  I am deserving of the label of a good pool player.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Winners Learn from their Successes

After I posted my long write-up of one of the greatest moments in my pool life - becoming a National Champion with my Women's Open Team! - Phil Capelle called me at work to congratulate me.

"Hey Melinda, Congrats!" Phil said with sincere admiration.

"Oh, thank you, Phil.  Means a lot you called," I replied, soaking in his words.

It's so funny to me that the famous Phil Capelle would call me and congratulate me.  I mean, seriously, one of THE main reasons I play such good 8 ball and because I won is due to his books, "Play Your Best Pool," where I learn the most about playing the game of 8 ball correctly and smart.  

He said, "I just read your blog and saw the diagram of your final run, but that did it no justice - the video truly shows how tough it really was.  Great out, tough table, good run!"

"Really?" I countered.  "Oh, thank you so much!"

Then Phil does what he does best, he shared golden nuggets of info.

I wrote in that blog that I prolly was successful in the finals because of my many losses.  And as I stated in the write-up, I was told many years ago that the "second place finisher is the REAL winner," because we learn so much more.

But Phil reminded me, "Don't forget, winning does breed winning."

Phil shared something with me.... that I can learn from my WIN:

He had just recently heard the golf announcer Johnny Miller say about a recent golf winner, that he needs to "soak in everything about his well played shots, then hit enter.  It's as if you are saving a file in your memory of a successful result."

Phil added, "Melinda, let success go to your head. Winners learn from their successes. Remember what you did, how you did it - this will give you confidence when you play again."

Thank you, Phil, for continuing to add to my pool journey!  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awesome Realization About Recent Solo Trips

I went to Reno and Vegas this year alone.  I didn't travel with anyone, I didn't stay with anyone.  While this didn't bother me, I admit it makes for many lonely meals, lol.

Most people responded confused, with a weird look on their face, "you came by yourself?"

Hmm... well, what's wrong with that?

Turns out that while I decided to stay alone so I could focus on playing my best, and to travel alone simply because there was no one who could travel to the same tourneys, the trips turned out to be a Godsend for me.

Whoever we travel with, that's who we hang out with.  Whoever we decide to room with, that's who we normally spend the most time with.

Because I stayed and traveled by myself to a week long trip to Reno (Bar Table Championships) and two weeks in Vegas (for ACS Nationals and BCAPL Nationals), something pretty awesome happened:  I met and became friends with new people!

When we travel around the country playing this awesome game we love, we recognize the many faces we see a lot, but not often do we get to hang out with new people and feel so good about new friendships.

While in Reno, Kim Benson Broughton (former WPBA pro) saw that I was by myself one day and asked if I wanted to chat about our recent 9ball tourney finishes.  I met many people through her the next couple of nights and really enjoyed getting to know this wonderful woman.  She co-owns a pool room in Reno and it's always nice to meet women who give back to the pool world through businesses.

The last night in Reno, I sat next to Leslie Bernardi, fellow competitor and former Master player from California, in the casino at the table game Let It Ride for hours and we chatted all night long.  We decided since it was the last night in Reno and the tourney was over, that we could have a few shots.  One hundred shots of Crown later, lol, we are still drinking and then meet up with pro player Sal Butera.  Sal owns a pool room in CA and had very recently lost his Mom.  My heart ached for him so badly as he shared with us the sad news, as my Mom had recently passed and my emotions were still very raw.  I cried (as he held it together), as he drank tequila and Leslie and I had more Crown, lol.  Sal is the son of the famous Machine Gun Lou Butera.

It was so cool that last night in Reno hanging out with Leslie and Sal, and getting to know new friends.  Our friendship would not end in Reno, as we would meet up again in Vegas.

When I traveled to Las Vegas three months later, I went to the ACS Nationals... also by myself.  I didn't know how many people would be there that I knew, as I usually only played in the BCAPL Nationals and therefore was not sure how many people go to ACS.

The very first person I see is Janet Ybarra.  She runs the Texas ACS State Tourney and she was there in October when I won her event.  As soon as I saw her, she hugged me tightly and then asked who I was with.  Surprised my boyfriend couldn't get off work, she would watch my matches the next few days.

That first afternoon, we sat by the awesome Tropicana pool and talked like little school girls for hours, getting to know each other.  And one night we ventured out together and went to a real nice dinner and then walked the strip.  It was so cool to get out and visit the town I love with a new friend.  She has a huge heart and a great personality.

I saw two other people I knew from Texas at the ACS tourney - Charlie and Nancy Smith.

While I run into this awesome husband/wife team all the time, I hadn't really had the opportunity before to spend quality time with them.  Attending the ACS alone was a also blessing, as I was able to spend long hours with Charlie and Nancy.  They would watch my matches and support my progress, and I would watch Charlie place 2nd in the Super Seniors division!  I was so proud. :)  They treated me like one of their own children, and I welcomed the unconditional love I felt.

Then when I moved over to The Mirage, I met more people who also love Let It Ride and we would meet up almost everyday to share how our days went.  Most were there for meetings or conventions, and here I was a little pool player competing in a big pool tournament down the street at another casino.  It was cool!

Then when I arrived at The Riv for the BCAPL Nationals, I would hang out with people I normally wouldn't have, had I had a roommate or travel buddy.  I hung out with my teammate Monica (Moni) several times the rest of the week, including a very special lunch date on Mother's Day that was an extremely tough day for both of us. 

Moni and I have known each other for years and are good friends, but we haven't had any recent chances to spend quality time together, due to personal things we were going thru and because our homes are almost an hour apart.  

One sunny afternoon I ventured to The Riv pool and run into Kristie Womack and Wendy Kent.  Kristie is the famous BCAPL ref and the smallest woman on earth with a huge heart.  Wendy is from Oklahoma and we only see each other in Vegas, altho we hit it off right away the first time we met a few years ago at the Riv bar.  Both are truly awesome women.

We all hung out and got some good rays and then they invited me and Moni to check out The Rio and then to go downtown to Fremont street.  I hadn't been to either in years, and Moni had never been.  So, Moni and I tagged along with a large group of great people to check out the future BCAPL Nationals Venue (The Rio) and then to check out the street party downtown.

It was a lot of fun to hang out with friends away from the tourney setting.  We smiled and laughed a lot and had a truly wonderful time!

I was also able to spend quality time with my friend Heather who is a great friend from Florida.  She always checks on me each month and I have been so distant, yet she still texts me (even tho I barely respond) because she knows how close my Mom and I were.  I was able to have a great lunch with her and her fiance' one day and joined by two awesome friends of hers from Florida who's hearts are filled with greatness.  All of them would keep in touch throughout the week to see how we were all doing in the team events.  I felt very loved. 

I met up with Sal in Vegas only for a brief moment, as we toasted to our great tourneys.  He would place an eventual awesome 7th place in the Men's Pro Ten Ball Tourney, and my team would win the Women's Open event.  Leslie and I got to hang out a few times to watch matches, eat at the Peppermill, and we texted the entire time.  Even after she flew back to CA for work, she would still follow my progress, as I would cry how much I miss my Mom and wished she was there for my wins.  Leslie was so supportive!

I was also able to have a solo lunch with my dear friend Kelly.  Kelly and I have known each other for several years and met through other pool players.  Even though we always promised to meet up for lunch or dinner while I'm in Vegas, we never had had a chance to.  Until this trip!  It was SO wonderful to get to know her and hear how her life is.  And she would listen with an open heart to my words.  I will cherish every moment with her, forever.  I love to be around mature women who enjoy life and their happiness.

While I would have loved to travel with my boyfriend, I am secretly thankful for the solo trips this year because I was able to meet new friends and create a bond that only pool players can understand. 

I am so happy for the new relationships I have been privileged to recently.  I'm so internally elated, and know I needed these friendships because it's been such a tough year.

While all this seems so obvious - if you travel alone you meet new people, duh.  I think what sets this apart for me is:
  1. I hardly ever travel alone,
  2. I'm actually pretty shy when I don't know people, and so I don't normally hang out with new people, 
  3. The new people I met were very genuine and caring, and I need that right now,
  4. I got to spend quality time with some dear friends, but mostly:
  5. I think it's awesome I REALIZED how personally fruitful these trips were for me!
I could have easily went on with my normal self, getting back into the swing of things at work, and moved on in my daily life.

But you know what?  I am GRATEFUL.  I truly am.  I have no family anymore, and therefore friendships are all I have.

And I want to savor my new friendships.  This all may seem very minuscule to others, but to me, relationships are important.  And make for a solid LIFE.

Every person I mentioned in this blog (and the many others I didn't mention who I spent  a little time with on these two trips, like Andy W, Cristina, Darnell, Kristen, C, Vicki W, Sunny, Amanda, Yvette, Lisa E, Jennifer P, etc.), I have a valuable relationships with.

And for that, I am truly grateful.