Monday, April 27, 2015

Hug The Loser

I hate the word "loser."

I can't even say "losers side."  I prefer "one-loss side" when I talk about the left side of the brackets.

But I want to express how heartbreaking it is to lose.  And how you can help.

Two of my friends were playing each other at BCAPL Texas State in the women's singles division in the match for 4th place.  As I walked by several times, each player was playing good and smart.  It was a tight match.  One player is seasoned, the other kinda new and shy about competing.  But the shy player was playing her little heart out, as the seasoned player was playing her heart out, too. 

Eventually, the match would go hill-hill! 

I saw the seasoned girl win, and everyone was happy for her and congratulating her.

Then I did something kind of on instinct:  I walked right into the playing area and made a bee-line to the shy girl. 

I know how it feels to lose.  I know how it feels when everyone is talking to and congratulating your opponent while you are trying to hold it together and not feel worthless.

I walked right up to her, and gave her a HUGE hug.  It was literally only minutes after the match.  I held her tight and whispered, "I am SOOOO proud of you."

I didn't know how she would react, as we only see each other twice a year at state tourneys, but she held me back tightly fighting tears, and she confided and whispered in my ear, "I wanted that win so badly."

Even as I type this, I'm emotional. 

I could hear in her voice how heartbreaking the loss was for her; how much she wanted the win.  

I am glad I gave her that hug.  I am glad I recognized her for what she DID accomplish - getting to 4th in a really tough tournament.  Why?  Because she really did play her heart out and wanted the win badly, and it HURT that she lost.

Sometimes I feel like my biggest gift to pool is empathy and understanding.

I can't begin to express how horrible it feels to lose.  Sure, we've all been there and have experienced it.  But, it's more than we can put into words sometimes.  So, if you see someone who just lost in a big event, hug them or tell them how proud you are of them.  Sure they feel defeated, but I can guarantee you that you will be taking part of the sting away. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How to Watch Live Pool

Funny, really. 

While watching the finals at BCAPL Texas State tourney, that was being streamed LIVE on the Internet, someone next to me was watching the match, also.  In front of him, AND on his tablet!


I HAD to take a pic and share this with you all!  Funny!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Change A Coming?

Sometimes in life, it's time for a change.

You don't know when that time will come, or if it will.

You actually never even think about change, until it's time for one.

Until it stares you in the face.

Back in January, I was blessed to see a public speaker, a Buddhist.  His bottom line take-away (for me) was:   the way to achieve happiness is by having true inner peace. 

Everyone wants either happiness, or not to be unhappy.  The way to achieve true happiness is with inner peace. 

Things that make us temporarily happy, lead to temporary pain afterwards (think of shopping, binge eating, drinking, and/or gambling, for example).

The goal is to get true inner peace, which is NOT temporary happiness.

Winning my recent pool titles has been a huge gift for me in my life!  But, even I'll be the first to admit that not having someone to share them with leads to much sadness.  Not happiness at all, actually.

I lost myself the last 4 years due to depression and unhappiness because of what life dealt me.  I wouldn't change a thing because I'm stronger for it, and more understanding for my friends because of what I've been through, so I can relate more for them.  But, I can tell I'm just not happy anymore competing in pool.

And I am just as surprised as anyone else that I accomplished so much in pool competition while depressed.  I finally "mastered" my fundamentals, and it just coincidentally happened during a tough time in my life.

I am 45 years old.  Will I be playing pool at this level the rest of my life?  Am I really going to be competing in pool into my 50s?   Do I really WANT to??  I would rather be experiencing the outdoors and making memories.   And helping people.  Those things are my inner peace. 

And that's what I would rather be doing with my life now.  I don't want temporary happiness; I want true inner peace.  I want more experiences out of the life I have remaining.  And I want to help others more.  

I don't need or want anymore pool experiences.  I'm very bored.  Very unhappy.  Wishing I was NOT in a pool room.  Rather be doing outdoor things, or helping people.  Making new memories.  It's time for a change in my life.  Tired of being around smoke, tired of being around drama, tired of using my vacation for pool, etc.  I'd so much rather be enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature; finding inner peace. 

I've played pool for over 25 years (that's over half my life!).  I have accomplished A LOT in the last 2-3 years.  If I hadn't, I'd prolly want to continue to compete, for sure!  But, I'd rather leave competition on a high note.  Rather than when my skills start to go down.

No one thinks I can leave (the very few I mentioned this to), but I would only miss two things:  blogging and my friends.

I'm sure I'll stay around it.  Keep running the Omega Tour, maybe give back in some other ways.  But right now, my heart isn't in to competing at all. 

I think what I'm going to do is stop playing in leagues, as the first step.  Maybe I'll change my mind by the end of the year (when the league session ends), but right now I am looking forward to having all my week nights off.  Kinda excited about it, actually!

Since I feel I have accomplished so much already in pool (I'm extremely fortunate!), I feel like it's okay to step away from competing and focus on other areas.  Writing more, helping more, etc. 

I'm not sure if I will feel this way in a few months, but I actually felt like this DURING the BCAPL Texas State tourney.  And then afterwards.  Just not into competing right now for some reason.  Doesn't make sense to me - placing 1st in scotch doubles and 2nd in singles, and I still feel this way?? 

But if my heart isn't in it anymore....

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Team Leadership

One of the local ladies team that plays in our women's league is more than "just a team."

Sure, most teams might have little rituals before they start a match or they might have-five or something.  But most women's teams I have been on, that's the MOST they do.

I actually REALLY like how this one certain team does things, and their leadership should be shared and captured for others to emulate.

First off, they have a closed group on Facebook that they can post for each other before league nights or tournaments.  They provide quotes, give pep talks, positive encouragement, etc on this page that is ONLY for their team. 

Second, they also have a quote on their shirt, which I LOVE!  I absolutely love this idea:

It says, "Individual commitment to a group effort."

Most projects or teams in businesses have a mission or vision or leadership quote they stand by, and it's so impressive to me that a team would do this - and it is so smart!

Here is their shirt:

Thirdly, they get together and practice!  Yes, they hit balls together and improve their games.  They don't just do it individually, they meet up and play together and learn from each other.  I can only imagine that also brings the whole team together. 

I can see how their team dynamic is great and they also have a lot of fun and enjoy the game, all the while they are competing at their best - as a team - because of all these leadership building blocks they have implemented.

Pretty impressive!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ferrule Me This (photo)

Saw this at BCAPL Texas State.  I didn't even know something like this was possible!

It was on her break cue.  Pretty cool.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Really, More Hardware?

Pretty tough to do, but Greg Sandifer and I WON the BCAPL Texas state Scotch Doubles event undefeated!   Second year in a row for me!  And with a new partner.

Then came singles.  After a very long, exhausting, tough day full of close matches and lots of nerves and adrenaline, I found myself winning all my matches somehow and won the hotseat match.  I would be I the finals the next day!!

As you might recall, I won this event last year - THE tourney I always wanted to win.   To be in the finals the next year didn't even make sense to me how I could do that.

Felt pretty fortunate to be in the finals!!  I got double dipped by a super talented player (Ricki Casper), and plus I didn't play well enough.  But very pleased with second place in a really tough field!!

People kept acting disappointed when I told them (after they asked how I did in singles), that I placed 2nd (and not 1st).  Well, I still think I did great, honestly!!  (even tho someone actually told me second place is the first loser).   BUT.... I found out after the finals, that my opponent lost her Grandmother just the week before, and she wanted to win it for her. So, I'm even more glad she won!  I've been in her shoes and I know that means a lot. So again, second place was great for me, and my opponent played her heart out to win it!

And my women's team, 8 Ball Heat, placed 7th!!

Good pool week.  Made me reflect a lot about pool and where my future lies with it as I can sense a change acoming, but still feel extremely fortunate for my week!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

FANtastic Idea

As I'm playing in my first round of singles at the BCAPL Texas State tourney, I see this across the way:

Portable fan!

I say do what you gotta do!  Use your tools.

Smart idea.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Amazing Jump Shot

Man, sure wish I would have grabbed my phone to record this AMAZING jump shot, WITH shape to win this match hill-hill!

Still kicking myself for not capturing this awesome moment on video.

But, with the solids still left on the table untouched after the jump shot, it was easy for Jeff to set up the cueball and that one little stripe left to recreate the shot for his friends who missed it.

Before jump on the stripe:

After the jump shot, and shape on the 8 ball:

Jeff (in orange shirt) talking about the shot with his friends after:

As a ref watched the shot, the stripe didn't so straight in the pocket.  It kinda wobbled back and forth, and Jeff willed it in with adrenaline and excitement, "get in there!" And then it magically fell in, as the cueball was drawning back for shape on the 8 ball.

It was really awesome!

Friday, April 17, 2015

How I Wait to Shoot

I never thought about having a logo before.

But someone saw how I was waiting patiently in my chair, waiting to shoot when it was my turn.

I always lean my cue on me.  I learned to always be ready to shoot and one way to accomplish this is to NOT put your cue down in between shots (I wrote about this before).  Always look like you are ready to shoot; always be prepared.   I was taught that when you put your cue up, it can be a symbol of defeat.

While I was taught to hold my cue, I lean it on me so my hands stay clean and my cue doesn't get sticky or dirty by holding it a long time.

It actually bothers me when I see a friend out their cue on their cue clip, instead if taking it with them to their chair.   As I said, it kinda looks like a defeated action (even tho I know they aren't thinking that way).

But, imagine the players who keep holding their cue and what that reflects as:  confidence.

Anyway, so this is what they saw, and said I should make it my logo, lol:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nailed It (photo)

Some players are serious about pool.  And nails.  And ensuring their nails match the theme of the season, year, holiday....or event!

Check this nail art out:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

That's My Chair

I was playing in the women's singles event finals at the BCAPL Texas State tourney the week of April 6th.   As I was at the table, about a game down in the middle of the match, I was busy surveying the table for my next shot when I see out of the corner of my eye, a guy came from the large crowd (of mostly my opponents' friends) and sat down in my chair and then scooted it over close toward my opponent.

I stopped shooting and said to him, "that's my chair."

He looked at me funny and said, "I'll give it back."

First of all,  please get out of my chair.
Second of all,  I'm in the finals, that's very rude.
Third of all,  you just moved it away from where I was sitting!  That was my little comfort area, near my water and napkin.

I stood there not knowing what to say, and then my opponent found him another chair.   He scooted mine back, then proceeded to sit next to her and talk to her while I was shooting.  Very distracting!

After my turn at the table, I sat down (in my chair) and the guy leans over and says, "I'm sorry I took your chair."

I was pretty annoyed still.  I said,  "I wouldn't let any of my friends take her chair,  or let them sit next to me and talk.   We are in the finals. "

He didn't know what to say, as the last part of my sentence I really mumbled,  because I'm not one for confrontation.

Later on the the match, maybe closer to hill hill the first set, my opponent was at the table.  Someone came and sat right in my opponent's chair.  "Ummm,  that's her chair, " as I pointed to my opponent at the table.

He replies, "that's my home girl," pointing to my opponent.  I reply, "well, that's still her chair."  He finally looked around for another chair and sat in the new one.

I understand people want to watch the finals, or watch their friends play, but please be courteous of the chairs for the players.  It's so annoying and frustrating to come back from a shot to sit and collect your mind to a seat that is now taken by someone who is inconsiderate or not consciousness enough to realize the players have to sit and you might be taking their little chair that they had been in comfortably the entire match.  It throws off our rhythm.  You may think it's minor, but it's really not.

It's the place of comfort we retreat to.  And taking or sitting in our chair disrupts that. And we are no longer focused on the match, where our head needs to be.  Instead, we are trying to locate another chair to sit in, as is courteous etiquette towards our opponents to sit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Team Spirit

While playing in the team event, I overheard some guys discussing what to do about their payouts, since one guy was a no-show on the second day for this match that put them out of the tournament.

One teammate was adamant,  "He doesn't deserve nothing!  He didn't show up or text us back, he just left and didn't say anything."

The captain asked another player, "What do you think? "

He went along with the first guy, and yet another said he didn't care.

The captain asked a fourth teammate, "What about you?  What do you think?"

He shared, "just give him a piece of it.  We are friends before pool players."

He was the only guy who spoke up like that.  Everyone else was still upset their teammate left and didn't play and wanted to punish him.  And this one kept defending his position about it as others really thought the missing player shouldn't get anything.

I was so impressed, that as that player walked by, I stopped him to say it was awesome what he just did.  He expressed, "its just pool.  We are friends first. "

He could have kept quiet or gone along with the masses, instead he spoke up and expressed how minor it was, even tho they had just lost and the outcome could have been different if they guy showed up.

Turns out the player was having a big argument in the parking lot with his gf before their 4pm match.  And didn't come back in or respond to their texts,  "where are you?"

I think the captain gave everyone equal share of the payouts.  Altho the amount was minor, good decision!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interesting Safe

While playing in the women's team event this weekend, I was playing against a certain player and she was about to play safe, or so it seemed.

When you play safe you're supposed to call out the word 'safe' to your opponent so that they know what they are about to shoot.

As she turned around and looked at me to call her safe, she said, "shit."

So I thought she was disgusted with herself that she had to play safe. I won that game and a few other games later she happened to be playing another one of my teammates on the table in front of my team.  Again she had to play safe, and she turned to my teammate and said, "shit."

And then it finally dawned on me (and also the rest of my teammates as we all started laughing) that instead of saying 'safe,' she says 'shit.' Lol.  And I don't mean she says the word calmly I mean she says it kind of sarcastically and funny.  It was really quite amusing and certainly a different take on playing safe!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My National Ranking Angst

As I mentioned already, I played in the BCAPL Texas state tournament this past week and weekend.

It's amazing to me how many people complained to my face and also behind my back, and even on social media about my "open" player BCAPL ranking.

Some people are taking is very personal that I'm not an advanced player and I do not know why they are getting upset with me. When in fact, I do not control how national BCAPL ranks their members.

I have not finished well enough in Vegas at nationals to be rated an advanced or master player yet.

Who knows, maybe this year will be my year to place well enough in singles in Vegas at Nationals for BCAPL and then I will be moved up automatically, and naturally.

But for now I am an open player.  And for the few that defended me, I sincerely appreciate it.

I'm out here trying to play my little heart out and play the best that I can under the circumstances of my personal life.  I have a few successes, and instead of people being happy for me, they are bringing me down. All because of a nationally ranked ranking that I have no control over.

I see more haters and drama in competition the last few years and I have to say, it makes the wins less special.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm very proud (and a bit surprised!) of myself for winning scotch doubles and placing second in singles this week!  Just tough to fade some of the negative comments, when in fact I'm just trying to survive in this tough life, while also playing pool.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Teammate Times

I'm here at the BCAPL Texas state tournament this week and weekend.

I've already played in Scotch doubles and singles (which ill write about in detail later) and now I'm playing in women's teams.

My captain always sends a text to all of my teammates to let us know what time and what tables we play on next.

She always tells us to be there at the assigned tables 20 minutes before we play.

I, however, always show up at different times.  Sometimes earlier, but I admit usually later.

I always get there before we start (don't fret), but sometimes it is cutting it close.

But for some reason, and I admit I don't know why, she says I do not have to adhere to the time restraints of my teammates.  She knows I'm going to be there and that I don't need to show up 20 minutes early like everyone else.

I'm not sure exactly why though but it's pretty cool because I think she knows I don't really want to be early each time.  Maybe it's because I've been playing in tournaments for 20 years or maybe it's because I'm just, I don't know, dependable?

Either way it's pretty cool and I feel special I admit.  :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mutual Admiration

I had league last Thursday with my ladies team. 

As I said goodbye for the night, one of my teammates hugged me tighter than normal.

She finally released the hug, but held my hands and shared, "You know, next week we will be at BCA Texas State.  And that is exactly one year from the first time I saw you play pool."

I felt a little nervous, where was she going with this?

She exclaimed, "I have goosebumps!"  Then shared, "I was so in awe of how well you played and am honored we are friends and teammates now."

"Oh stop it," I said.

"No, listen, I mean it," as she held my hands tighter and looked me right in the eye.  "I love watching you play and I get so excited every Thursday night because I know I'll get to watch "Melinda play pool.""  She looked down at her arm, "I have goosebumps again!"

I got embarrassed, but also flattered a little, but still tried to leave.

She pulled me in for another hug and said, "I can't wait to play with you at State next week."

I remember her watching me play last year in the finals of scotch doubles at BCAPL Texas State, because they introduced me to her b/c we were about to be new teammates.  Although my partner and I won the entire event, I also remember missing an 8ball and another ball, so even though she talks about the match like she witnessed greatness, I saw it as, "wish you could have seen me play better,"  lol.

But it goes to show how impactful we can be sometimes to people.  And how we are being watched a lot of times.  I like to always be a representative of the sport and act like I'm okay, even if I'm steaming inside.  I have been complimented when I shake hands with a smile after I lose.  Well, it's who I am today.  And when I show negative emotions, I get upset with myself for showing that side (even if it's human to do so sometimes).

I drove home that night feeling really good.  A compliment goes a long way.  I had told her she had been playing really, really well, but she kept diverting my words from her to me.  Felt weird, but as I look back, I really do appreciate it.  And I really do admire how much she loves the game and has improved!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sold My Pool Table - What Does That Mean?

I sold my pool table on Tuesday to a fellow player, and her and her husband are VERY excited about getting a table in their new house!

I posted on Facebook that the table was for sale back in October.  I posted about it again in January and then again in early March.

This week I got the sale.  (yay!)

But, I have been VERY surprised at the responses and questions from people.

So, I thought I would explain why I sold my table.

First of all, I had a 9-foot table for about a year in 2012/2013 but had to sell it in August 2013 due to a break up.

I was able to get my hands on a good deal for this oversize 8-foot Brunswick Century pool table just a few months later in December 2013.  So, I nabbed it:

I will be very honest and say that I never get tables for myself.  I know from experience I don't hit balls or practice on my home tables (I had one in 1999 and barely used it that year).

Bottom line why I sold it:  I don't play pool on my home table, so why keep it?

  • I am not changing interests.
  • I'm not selling my house.
  • I'm not low on money.
  • I just want my living room back.
  • And, it was WASTED space.

I'm still perplexed why so many people were asking all these questions about why it was such a big deal I was trying to sell my table.  It doesn't really mean anything except I don't use it, so why keep it?

I'll let someone else enjoy that beautiful table!