Sunday, November 30, 2014

Surprises at ACS Texas State

I mentioned already that my singles results was a huge surprise to me.

But there were a few other surprises that trip I wanted to share. 

First, I got sick (a cold/sore throat type thing) at the tourney.  And this is what I found near me after I returned to my chair after shooting in a match:

I have such great friends!  They all know I'm all alone and they treat me like their kids, and I really do need that at times as I don't take care of myself enough.

And then, I was thoroughly surprised when I received a THANK YOU note from a maid!  It might seem weird, but I have left tips at most all the hotels I stay (even for work) and have never, ever received a thank you before.  It really made my day!

(yes, I know she misspelled it, but still!):

And then another surprise was FOR someone.

One of the refs has seen me through triumph and failure for many years. The time I won ACS State, it was about 2am in the morning and there was only about 5 people in the whole place, and that included Shannon.  She has been so cool and nice and a GREAT ref all these years for us.

At one point in the singles match at 9am on Friday, I needed a ref.  I raised my stick in the air and waved it, and then I saw Shannon walking over to call the shot.  For some reason, I decided I would mess with her.

This is the layout of the table:

I am standing near the cueball, and I need to hit the 12 ball clean (click photo to enlarge).  She walks up and she says, "what are you trying to shoot?" as she surveys the table looking near the cueball.

I reply, looking down at the cueball area, too, "I'm trying to hit the 7 ball."

She looks up at me, and I start laughing right away!  She busts out laughing too and I finally confide, "Just the 12 ball."  LOL.

It was a really great moment.  It showed I was in a good mood, it put HER in a good mood, and it started our morning off well since it was so early for us all.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Practice / Drills? Or Something else?

I was walking through the aisles at the ACS Texas State tourney inbetween all the pool tables, as I had just come washing my hands before my 9am match. 

I then saw out of the corner of my eye two friends shooting the same shot over and over.

I walked my a$$ over and interrupted, "What's going on over here?"

"I'm showing B how to shoot this shot," C said.

B shot the shot and missed it badly, AND the shape (which is what they were going for).

I said, "well, that way makes it a REALLY tough shot.  If you want to get down and around the table, you should do this instead."

And I shot the shot with top left English and the cueball smoothly sailed around for shape at the bottom end of the table.

C and B both tried it and couldn't really do the shot.  I told them even THAT shot is a tough shot and you just have to hit it over and over again to get used to it.  I added, "eventually, you will get the hang of the shot and really enjoy it."

I apologized for interrupting them (I really did fell bad) and I skedaddled on my way to my match.

A few hours later I saw B and I apologized again.  "Sorry I bothered you two, I was just trying to help."

"Oh you didn't bother us at all!  We leanred from what you showed us and we actually want to spend more time on shots with you."

"Oh really?  Cool.  Yes, let's do that."

She then confided with me.  "My significant other always want me to shoot shots over and over and over again and she wants me to practice shots I don't know yet or miss a lot and do drills.  I really don't like to do that.  But they insist, and then even get upset when I push back on practicing."

I told her, "well, honestly, I don't like to practice.  And I don't do drills.  So, I look at it as just shooting a shot til I feel comfortable with it.  If you look at it as NOT practice or NOT drills, but something that is fun to do - like learning a new shot - then you will be more apt to shoot a shot over and over til you love it/learn it."

"That's a really good point," she said.

"They are just trying ti help, but if you are already dreading it, then it wont be helpful at all.  Just look at it as improving, not drills or practice.  Those are "dry" words and not very positive to many people.  "Learning" and "excelling," are.  I do "practice" shots but I don't consider a full blown practice session."

Basically I was trying to tell her that practicing (or shooting) a shot over and over is good, but not if you are dreading "practicing."  Just call it something more fun!  Look at it from a different point of view.

She then gave me a hug and then she skedaddled to her next match!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old Habits Die Hard

It's true, ya know.  Old habits are hard to break

I saw this clear as day my last two outings away from the pool room.

I went to a karaoke place with my friends one night of the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop in Oklahoma City.  While all my friends were trying to figure out what to sing, I was too busy focused on two bar tables and wondered if anyone else in the place would want to play for a couple of twenty dollar bills, lol.

A month later, I go to a local bar to watch football with my friend Teri and while she was yelling at the 49ers (her favorite team) I was eyeballing the cute little pool table that some idiots were trying to play pool on, wondering (again to myself) if they would want to play for money.

Here was my view:

However, my boyfriend was the one who always initiated the conversation and got us a game, and since he wasn't around, I didn't approach any of the players at either of those places I just mentioned above. 

Although in one full year my boyfriend and I only gambled about 8 whole times in small bars with lonely pool tables, it was still weird to me how I was already used to wondering if the weekend warriors would want to gamble... and if I could get a game, lol.

I know that urge to gamble like that will pass; I'm not around it anymore.  Still, it was funny to me how fast I was curious about gambling, and wanted to share that with you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Contract Signed

A few months ago I was at an Omega tourney and a guy walked in who always barks at me wanting to play/gamble.

I asked him how much and what game?  Let's get this figured out right now.

He told me what his idea was, and I agreed with it.

Since I was running the tournament and could not play that day, I got a crazy idea to write it down!  Then we each signed it, lol. 

I didn't want him to forget and I wanted to hold him accountable, lol.

Here is the contract:

Six ahead for $300, 9-ball on a 9-foot table.

I haven't played him yet and this was signed back in early October, but one of these days, I will play him like this!

(to be continued....)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Priceless Convo

My good friend Courtney and I don't see each other very much anymore.  We aren't on the same team anymore and I don't go out much, but she still texts me often to keep in touch.

Case in point, last Sunday she had league and she texted me about some great shot she made. 

Then, omg... she drew me a diagram!!

Yes, she sure did.

I thought it was hysterical she did that, so I wanted to share it!  Here is our phone convo:

She really drew me a diagram, lol!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Complimenting Opponents, Part Two

I wrote yesterday about a teammate that IMHO should not have complimented an opposing teammate during a team event.

Today I'd like to write about something I learned over 20 years ago from my friend and good player, June Hager Walter, about complimenting opponents during individual matches.

She taught me NEVER to compliment my opponent during a match.

I did this one time during a match she watched me play in, and afterwards she told me not to ever do that again.

She explained if I compliment my opponent during a match ("good shot" or "nice out") it kinda makes my opponent feel better about themselves.  We have just helped THEM in their OWN match.

Now, I am a very soft-hearted person so it actually pains me not to give a compliment of a good shot or out, because it goes completely against my nature.  I actually WANT to acknowledge them.

I sit there thinking, "wow that was a nice, tough shot."  But I keep my mouth shut and don't say it to the player.  I *may* say something about their play after the match, but not during.

If we want the killer instinct and to give OUR best playing pool, then we should not be HELPING our opponents.



Imagine, you are playing in a really tough match.  You make a HECK of a shot!  Then your opponent acknowledges it, "That was a really nice shot."

How does that make you feel?

GREAT, right?

You knew it was great, and even your opponent was impressed.  And now you are pumped up even more!

See what just happened there?  Yep, your opponent helped YOU by giving YOU kudos.

Don't do that to your opponent.  Don't pump them up.  You are there to defeat them, not help them.

And, it actually pains my heart to even write all of this out because it goes against my nature.  I provide positive words of encouragement or kudos to people all the time in my daily life.  But as my friends Lisa Marr and Jennifer Kraber shared, "friends off the table."

I admit if I see something spectacular, I *might* compliment them.  But even after a really nice / tough run of the table, I normally keep my mouth shut and refrain from telling them because of what I learned so long ago from June.

However, it's actually a very tough balance.

Some good players/friends will still say, "nice shot" as a courtesy to their fellow player.  This happens a lot between good regional players who appreciate a good shot or recognize a tough shot.

Or, like one time at ACS State, I was playing a VERY new player and gave her compliments because I knew my compliments were helping her as a person who was nervous, but not in any way would my words help her defeat me (if that makes sense).  I know, I know, I should not be supportive at all to my opponents, ever, but it was tough not to be super kind to her because she was so new and nervous.

But, if I think back to that one time I played at a WPBA Pro event, there was not ONE single pro player saying "nice shot" to their opponent.  It was very serious and cut throat, quite honesty, and you were there to win, not compliment you opponent during a match.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Complimenting Opponents

During our women's league team playoffs, you'll have to picture that most of the women on the league all like each other and are good friends.  Like 95% of us are all friends!

So, it makes it difficult sometimes to play against each other.

I have learned, like my friend Lisa Marr says, "friends away from the table" because otherwise I use to have too soft of a heart when I played pool and that gets in the way of a killer instinct to want to win.

Anyway, so during our women's league team playoffs we are playing against some friends from an opposing team and one of the players is really struggling.  Turns out she was coming down with the flu, but she didn't know it at the time.

She's on her second match and struggling and she says out loud, "man, I can't make a ball today."

Well, one of my teammates immediately tells her something like, "You'll be fine, dont' think that way."

And I just REACTED.

I felt so bad I did this, but I said right away to my teammate out loud kinda snappy, "Don't tell her that!  She's our opponent.  Don't pump her up."

I realize they are friends and she was just helping her "as" a friend, but against each others teams we aren't suppose to be friends.

I know it was very natural for her to want to offer her support and kind words because she was struggling, but that was not the time nor place for it.

But... *I* could have handled that better and whispered in my teammates ear, instead of saying it out loud, kinda getting on to her.  I think our friend (yes, she was my friend, also) might have heard me say that, which is rude when you are trying to play.

I realize my teammate prolly took my words as advice eventually, but it prolly came across as getting on to her right then, not helping.  :(

Monday, November 17, 2014

Timing of Kudos

At the ACS Texas State tourney, a fellow female player had just won a spot in the hotseat match!

I didn't know who she was, or where she was from and honestly I had never seen her before. 

But, I could tell she was new and in unfamiliar territory.

She would lose that match, tho, even though you could tell she was fighting with nerves.

She would then lose her very next match, which meant she placed 3rd overall in the singles. 

After the match, I went up to her.

I leaned down (she was sitting down) and I told her that she played well and how happy I was for her.

She was very upset, though, and I was not helping.  But I thought it was important to tell her how well she did in the tourney and how good she played.  But I admit my timing wasn't good at all.

I gave her a quick hug and went on my way.  I knew if I hugged her any longer, the tears would be greater and I didn't want her to show her upsetness any more than she had to.

The next day during teams, she sees me and stops me.


"Hi there," I said

"I want you to know how much it meant to me that you said all those nice things to me yesterday.  I'm sorry I wasn't more receptive, I was just upset," she shared

"I know, I could tell, that's why I didn't hug you longer," I giggled.

"Although I could barely speak yesterday, I want you to know it really meant a lot to me.  And, thank you."

"Oh, you are very welcome.  You deserved it - you played well!"

She smiled with happiness and I think it meant a lot to her to finally be able to speak and say thank you.


Friday, November 14, 2014

See-Through Cue

Here is an amazing, very original cue made by Marty Wallace, local custom cue-maker in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

It was a specifically ordered cue, made of Zircon, aluminum, copper, with an optical clear tube.  He only had a month to make it!

Pics do not do it justice so I captured it via video:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Compliments About Playing Well

At my ladies league playoffs, I got some really good compliments that I wanted to share.

One of my teammates' husbands pulled me aside and said that he has been noticing my game.  

He said he's been silently watching from the sidelines and has noticed how much my game has really improved over the years.  He guessed what it was, but I told him it was something else.

I told him I dated a pro for about a year about 4-5 years ago, and even though we only played pool one time together in that full year, I watched him play a lot of pool during that year.  His motto was a "smooth stroke."  And I was able to see for an entire year, just how important a smooth stroke was for the first time in my pool journey.  From there, a smooth stroke (i.e., not whacking at the ball) led to me staying down more and following through more, which led me to FINALLY not jump up on my shots AND taking my time.

I had a REAL bad habit of shooting too fast, which led to jumping up on my shots, which led to a lot of misses.

And since my fundamentals started to get solid, I improved as a player, which led me to be chosen for clutch positions, which has led to more pressure situations, and therefore good finishes personally, also.

He also said it was a joy to watch me play.

It really meant a lot, because I really have improved and it feels just as good to play well, as those players who have watched me mature as a good player.

And then later on that night I got this message in FB from another male pool player:

"Melinda, I love watching you play pool. I think your patience and your mental game is something great. It's not just aiming and shooting. I know after watching you play, I got a long way to go with my game. Keep doing what you do. Enjoyed watching your games today."

WOW!  That meant so much, too!

I have noticed that people watch me and I think the solidness of my pool game and mental game are helping many people around me!  Friends, teammates, heck even opponents.  


Took me 20 years to get here.  I like where I'm sitting.  Even long journeys have a rainbow at the end.  And nothing comes easy.  So, I'm fine it has taken this long - means I wasn't ready before. But I sure am ready now!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Am I Helping?

I wrote before that I joined a new team on my ladies league b/c they asked me to join b/c they wanted pointers and to improve their games.

At my league playoffs (where we placed SECOND!), one of my ex teammates who I hadn't seen in many, many months came up to me and we gave each other a great big hug!  I have really missed her.

We chatted just a little bit and before we each had to play in our matches, but she asked me, "Why did you join that team?"

I replied, "Because they wanted me to help them with their game."

"Well, are you?"

But then she was whisked away for a team meeting.

Hmm... good question.

WAS I helping my teammates?

"I have no idea!" I thought to myself.

I mean, I have shown them shots after league, but only a handful of times.  And they have asked me, "how would you have shot that?" kinda questions after they played, but was I really helping them?

The next day, while we are still in the playoffs, my teammate walks by our table after a great out!  And she says to the captain, "I knew I could make that ball because I have seen Melinda make it before."

My ears perk up.  Omg really?

Then after a few more games, my captain tells me, "Laurie is really focused on you when you play."

"She is?"  I ask.

"Yea, she said she loves to watch you play because you play so calm and have such a cool demeanor about you.  And, she sees you stay down well and take your time."

I was thinking, "wow, really?"

Then another teammate jumps in on the convo - "Yes, we love to watch you play - we learn so much from your choices and how you handle yourself during the matches.  Plus, you come with some really awesome shots sometimes!"

So, I guess I got my answer.  I really HAVE helped my teammates!


And not by just showing them a few shots after their matches, but by them watching me play my matches.

How freaking cool!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pink Bridge

Isn't this cool??

Yep - a pink bridge!

This was at Jamaica Joe's, for October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, because they also had a pink felted pool table!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gambling In Another State

While out camping and sightseeing one long weekend over the Summer, my boyfriend and I one night stopped at a small little bar for some drinks.  They even had a couple of pool tables in it!

We were in Virginia I think, maybe North Carolina.  I don't recall the exact state where this occurred. 

A couple of guys were playing pool on the pool table near the front door.  As we sat at the bar and drank for a couple of hours, no one played on the second table.  I was watching the locals dance on the dance floor, my boyfriend was talking to the other guys at the bar.

At one point, I looked around and saw a guy and a girl playing on the second pool table.

And, they were using a magic rack - not one I had seen before though.

I told my boyfriend, who wasn't even looking at the tables, "Hey, a guy and girl are now playing on that pool table." 

"Oh?"  He replies.

"Yeah, and they are using a funky magic rack or something."

"Oh really?" He says intrigued as he turns around to see what's up.

He grabs his beer and walks over and goes to talk to the guy racking.

They talk and chat it up for a little while.  Then he comes back to the bar and asks me, "want to play scotch doubles with me?"

I had had a few drinks and wasn't sure if I was the best partner for him, but at $20 a person, I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

After they played a few games, they finally said they were warmed up.

Warmed up!?  We had had a few more drinks at the bar area while they "warmed up," lol.  

I didn't think this was going to end up pretty at all.

We start to play and it's not scotch doubles, but doubles. 

But, I honestly didn't know what to do.  Am I suppose to run out?  If I do that, will they want to play again?

I asked my boyfriend before I stepped up each time to the table to shoot, "What do I do?"

He would say, "make a few balls then miss."


I did that a few times and then he would say, "Okay, now run out."

He wasn't playing too well but he gave me great advice because I honestly wasn't sure what to do!

After several sets, we ended up winning 5, I think, and lost 1 (because of a bad safety by me).

It was getting later and later and then somehow my boyfriend got in a game for a race to 7 (I think) for $100.  It's pretty late now in the night, but a several people were still left in the place.

My boyfriend was about to break and then all of a sudden he stopped!

He stood up, put his arms in the air and said, "Before I start, does anyone wanna play my girl for hundred?!?"


No one said anything!

He looked around the room and asked again, "Seriously.  Anyone wanna play my girl for a hundred?"

Then some guy says from the corner, "your girl plays better than you."

And with that, my boyfriend broke and proceeded to win that set, AND the next set!

I asked him the next morning while we ate breakfast, "Babe.  Did it upset you that that guy said I played better than you?"

He looked up from his coffee and smiled, "Nope, that's what we wanted."


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Clutch

I wrote before how being in the clutch position comes with it some pretty tough responsibilities.

Being the hill-hill person means you either win it for the team, or lose it for the team.

Can you handle both?

Winning hill-hill is easy.  Or is it?

Sure, AFTER you win it's fun and hugs and high fives and smiles.

During the match, your heart is beating, you feel the pressure, you know it ALL lies in your hands.

And what about if you lose?  Can you handle that horrible situation?

I was the hill-hill person for our team this past weekend in the finals, it went hill-hill.  I felt very comfortable in that position.  I have been here for the last 3-4 years for my women's teams events, so I'm used to it.

And, as I have stated before, *I* would rather be the person who dogs it for the team than anyone else on the team!

PLEASE let me be that person!


Because I can handle losses now.

I really can.

Would I be upset?

Sure; of course.

I have a couple of hill-hills I didn't win.  And each time I knew I gave it my best (even tho I felt bad, but I also knew it wasn't the end of the world.

Last weekend, I had to play safe and instead of the soft safe I envisioned, I did not hit the ball and rail.  That gave my opponent ball-in-hand and she ran out the 3 balls to win for her team in the finales of this hill-hill game.

My team was still SO very happy we were even in the finals.  SO very happy we even got hill-hill!

While I felt deflated, I knew I would be alright. And sure enough, my captain came up to me and said, "I'm so glad that was you.  Any other teammate would be crying their eyes out right now."

And she is right.  All these years of experience - I WOULD rather be the player that lets us down.  I can handle it.  In my 20s to mid 30s - I KNOW I couldn't have.  I sat at home weeping over missed shots for days back then.

Not anymore.

I think the coolest part (besides my teammates fighting to the end and getting second in our women's league playoffs) was that my captain recognized how important it was that I was handling the loss well for the team.  And that I was the right person for that position.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Team Spirit in Play Offs

I wrote recently about giving a teammate a high-five after she lost a game in our team event because she was new to pool and competing, and I could tell she could use some encouragement.

I also stated how helpful it has been for me personally after I lose to get confirmation from any teammate that (1) they were watching, (2), they still luv me, or (3) that it's okay that I lost a game.

Any recognition:

A high five,
A fist bump,
Verbal acknowledgement,

It's VERY helpful because let's face it we are embarrassed after we lose a game for our team and any encouragement keeps us pumped up.

So, I was pleasantly surprised during my women's team playoffs this past weekend when I noticed everyone started to do this!

I think it was because they saw me fist bump every time someone lost a game.  Next thing you know, they are telling me "good try" or giving me a fist bump, too.

It was amazing how everyone on the team started to acknowledge every win OR loss by EACH player.

And, it just happened naturally after only one person started to do it!

BTW, we placed an impressive 2nd place in the playoffs!  And the first set in the finals even went hill-hill.  I don't think anyone expected us to do so well in the tourney or in the finals!

Go team go!

"8 Ball Heat"  (I'm pointing to the 9-9 score, lol)