Friday, August 28, 2015

No Love for Pool

Boy pool is definitely not mainstream like golf, tennis or basketball, is it?

Because pool is not on TV it's very easy for even pros to walk into a pool room or bar or even a league event and gamble with not many people recognizing them.

This could never happen with basketball players or golfers or even tennis stars.

Last year one of my friends, a pro, who actually played on the Mosconi Cup, was able to walk into an APA event in Vegas and gamble because not many people recognized him and knew who he was.  A couple of times some people would walk by and say, "hey, hi xxxxx!"  Even with players hearing his first name and seeing people be excited, they still didn't realize or recognize who they were playing or who they were watching.

Pool is very popular in Asia and Europe.   It's on TV more there and the players are even written up in local gossip magazines if they do something crazy or whatever, but here in the US the idea that pros can walk into a venue without anyone knowing or recognizing who they are and be able to gamble is really kind of sad.

I'm sure this happens with golfers on small courses or with semi- famous tennis players on some remote tennis court, but because this can happen with pro pool players at a national league event, really tells the state of the sport, imo.

I wonder if in my lifetime pool will be mainstream. I don't know if many of you know that pool used to be on ABC Wide World of Sports pretty regularly. I would love to be able to talk to someone at ABC and ask them why did y'all stop covering pool?  I'd be very interested to see what the reason was.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting Closer

Well, I had league again last night.  Still debating whether to play next season or not.

I broke and ran the first rack.  Again everyone was like, "You can't quit!  See?  You're playing great!"

Uh, that's not the point.

The loudest thing I'm hearing that is making me second guess this is this one fact:  After you step away, your game is never as good as it was if you come back.

But yet I don't want to come back.

At least right now I have no desire to come back to league play.

Then they say, "I thought I didn't want to either."  Or, "You may never know."

Well, deep in my heart, I know I would rather not pick up my cue ever again.

Someone said last night, "What, are you going to stay at home and make babies?"  Uh, no.

People seem to think I will be staying at home every single night if I don't play pool anymore.  How about doing more outdoor things?  How about taking classes?  Or reading (which I do NOT do at all).  Things that improve myself so I can be a better friend and coworker, and to be happier?  I WANT to come to work refreshed after a good nights' sleep.  Not up late b/c of league. 

I tried to express that there is too much drama in pool.  Someone pointed out, "Well, there's drama with the Omega Tour (that you run)."  Well, that is different.  That drama is not against me personally.  There is drama between players that I like to handle with my leadership skills.  That doesn't bother me and I welcome those challenges.

But drama on league, or in the pool room, or at tournaments, THAT I'm tired of.  And I simply feel like I don't have to be around it anymore.  It's a choice.  Just last night someone got mad at me for playing a safe.  Literally said something to me about it during the game and raised his voice at me because he was mad at me.  I want to be around people who make me feel good, who make me laugh, who provide me peace when I'm around them.  I'm not feeling that at tournaments anymore or in league, either.

I reached out to a friend of mine that I look up to as I noticed through facebook that she no longer plays pool.  She said, "I found that the unhealthier affects of competition on my personality were bringing me down and that I was sacrificing other parts of my life in pursuit of something that was no longer making me happy.  I also felt like most of the people in the competitive pool crowd weren't that upstanding to be around."

She understands.  And boy can I relate!  (And damn she has an amazing way with words!)

The bottom line for me is this:   I have been very successful the last few years and feel very proud to have accomplished all that I did in a short time period.  And, I feel very lucky and also very fulfilled!  It's now time to focus on other aspects of my life than a smokey pool room that I have lived in for 20-25 years.  Not one person has said to me, "I support you."  All I get is, "you can't step away"  or "don't go, you are playing too good," or "we need you on the team" or "you will be back."  So it was VERY refreshing when I reached out to my friend who has already gone through this "retirement" (successfully, I might add).  And I spoke with another friend today who said, "Of all of the reasons someone could have to step away from pool for a time, that sounds like the best one. "

Maybe I will or maybe I wont play again, but there is more to this life than to come home late smelling like smoke.  How about hiking?  Golfing?  Visiting new beautiful outdoor locations?  Going out to dinner and having a great convo with successful girlfriends?  Making those type of memories.  I am chalk full of GREAT pool memories, moments, trips, locations, and friends of pool that I will NEVER take for granted and will always appreciate.  AND I wouldn't change A THING!  But it's time to move on now.  And playing pool even twice a week limits doing other more productive and successful things in my life, currently.

My friend also said, "the last goal that I set was to hit the top 16 in the WPBA. I played a bit without a new goal and wasn't focused. I knew it was time to quit when I no longer had any desire to set new goals."  I hadn't really thought of the feelings I'm having about retiring related to my goals, but after reading her comments, she made me realize that indeed once I achieved my overarching goal for the last 11 years or so to win BCA Texas State (which I did last year), my heart seemed "fulfilled."  And then after winning ACS Nationals 9-ball Singles just a month later, I felt shocked.  And I didn't set any new goals or can even think of any I WANT to set.  Been a great ride!

I will be very honest and say it takes A LOT to have mental toughness and focus for an entire tournament.  It's also very emotional dealing with all that can come with competition.  Not competing all the time will provide more peace in my life.  I know I sound extremely selfish, but it's actually NOT easy to be selfish, so I hope others can appreciate that this really is not a very easy decision for me at all. 

As I said before I will still be around pool because of the Omega Tour.  And I will actually be writing more in the future (for other pool-related opportunities).  I will still find items to write about in my blog, too, which I dearly love - my little heart-to-heart online diary!

But it's time for a change - a positive change that brings more peace in my life!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thinking Ahead Can Cost You (video clip)

I have shared before that thinking ahead in a match can be costly. 

Well, this made the news just this week:

"BEIJING (AP) — They both lifted their arms to celebrate before the finish line."

But for Molly Huddle it was a different story. While slowing down and raising her hands, she had no idea her American teammate, Emily Infeld, was sprinting behind her. Infeld caught up, shouldered her way past Huddle and crossed the line in front of her to capture the bronze while Huddle was celebrating.

The correlation is do not start to celebrate before you make the last ball in a rack!  Don't assume you made the last shot (or out) BEFORE you win.

Do NOT think ahead.

The lady above already slowed down and started to celebrate, yet she hadn't even made her last ball.  Don't find yourself in this position - cross that finish line first!

If you already think you won, that means you are not even thinking of the ball right in front of you.  Your mind needs to be 100% on the table, not thoughts of "I'm about to win."  You haven't won yet!

Focus on every single shot with all your might.  It's the easiest shots that we take for granted.  Those are the ones we don't stay down for, or the ones we shoot too fast.  Treat every shot the same.

Don't ruin a good run-out by missing a ball late in the rack because you are *almost* about to win or because the ball is easy.  Take your time.  Take your time with EACH shot - especially the easy ones.

Don't celebrate too soon!  You haven't won til the last ball falls, and that comes with staying down and following through on every single shot, even the "gimmes."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

All You Need Is Just One....

They say all you need is to just buy one ticket.

Well, I REALLY wanted to win a cue at BCAPL Nationals when I was there in July and here were my chances:

(yes, I bought more than one)

The raffle girls loved me!  Usually players turn away when they approach them, I would instead almost flag them down.  "Hey, I want to buy a ticket, come here!"

They would remember my name and say hello, too, because I would buy tickets from them more than once, lol.

But alas, I did NOT win a new cue!  Dang it...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Myers Briggs

How we interact successfully with others is an every day occurrence and is largely based on our recognition of the different personalities each person has.  How we handle situations at work, and how we deal with our family and friends.  And of course, how to handle different personalities in pool, too.

Every day life.

One of my recent captains was having an issue with a teammate.  She was upset she wasn't playing on a certain night.  The female is about 23 and new to the pool arena, even tho she plays well.  The captain is in his upper 50s and been around pool for ages but not a top shooter (but he thinks he's the snizzle).

They got into it one day about this issue:  Why she got sat out and instead he played, on a certain night.  He told her, "we needed our top shooters that night and you aren't one of them."  (Basically)

Obviously she was super upset.

I expressed nicely to the captain after I heard about it, that he should never have spoke to her that way and said that that way.  He defended himself by sharing, "My Dad told me to always say what's on your mind and be straight forward so there is no confusion."

While I can understand his Dad's words of advice, you still should be sensitive as to HOW you say something and be cognizant of who you are speaking to.

I told the captain he should never say that to a new female player who was already having issues being compared to others.  I told him he *might* get away with telling me something like that.  As I might have been more receptive because I know it's true and because I'm 45 and maybe I can handle that true low blow.  But she's too young, new, and sensitive to be told that in such a blunt way.

He asked me how would I have told her and my response was, not like that.  Sometimes you have to be careful how you word things.  Be nice and not rude, no matter how true or hurtful the info is.

Several on the team were upset how he spoke to her.

Bottom line is, that's HIS personality.   If you know that, you get less upset if he's a tad abrasive or brutally honest.  And if you know her personality, you say things a tad different to not hurt feelings.

For those that think, "just say what you mean, if they get upset it's their problem."  I suggest that people skills can be a gift, and learning about leadership helps understand different personalities and how to get along best with other types of personalities.  I suggest looking up Myers Briggs.  HIGHLY suggest it.  You'll thank me.  :)

 (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Know This is Bad Timing

When i played my first match of the day on Monday morning at BCAPL nationals, I found myself in a tough match.

Why could I not be playing any of the other girls around me that kept missing, lol.

I almost got out the first game but I missed a shot I normally make.  Then my opponent COMES WITH IT.  At first she was missing in this first game, but then we she had 3 tough balls left and a tricky 8 ball, she nailed the out.

Oh shit.

I was impressed.  And I knew I had my hands full.

I won the next game though.

She won the next with more good play and excellent safeties.  She played super smart; knew the game well.

But for some reason, I managed to pull ahead 3-2.  She continued to fight;  continued to play impressive safes and great shots, but I was able to win the match somehow.  Still not sure how tho, because she was a great player.

As we were putting our cues away, I said to her, "I know this is really bad timing, but you played really good."

She snapped at me, " No I didn't. "

She was very upset.   Honestly, she should be; She played REALLY good, but the last two games I prevailed somehow.

I tried again, "You played excellent safeties.  You play really smart and good" I pleaded ( yes, pleaded for her to hear me).

"I played terrible," as she quickly left the area upset.

Although she lost, she was my best opponent and most knowledgeable.   I wanted her to know that so badly.

Fast forward about 8 hours and I see her walking by me.  Then all of a sudden she turns around and comes up to me.

"Hey, it really meant a lot what you said this morning.  And I'm glad you prefaced it with 'I know it's bad timing.'  But I was just upset, but I want you to know it meant a lot."

Then I bragged on her some more in front my friends how well she played and her great safeties.  She left with a smile to her next match and won the rest of her matches that day.  I was a huge fan already from our morning match.

April from Canada.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Feeling the Love

I received this note and gifts in the mail when I got home after BCAPL Nationals from my friend Janet who lives in another state:

(Click photo to enlarge)

She said she wanted to give it to me before I played on that final day in Vegas but didn't get a chance to bring it to me.

I can't even put into words how much this meant to me to be thought of, and in the same breathe as my Mom!  THANK YOU so so much, Janet!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Decisions Decisions

I had league on Tuesday night.  The captain texted me during the day and asked if I could play and I was honest and said I had had a bad previous night and really bad day and could really use the night off.

He said they really needed me because we were playing a good team.

I told him I would be there.

But, I admit I wasn't happy about it.   I hate that I HAVE to go to league sometimes.  That I am committed and can't take the night off when I want to.

SO READY for my leagues to be over with.

Ready to put that cue in the closet and never even touch it again (as you may recall, I'm not going to play leagues or big tourneys anymore).

But, they needed me, so I sucked it up and went.  They asked that night if I was going to play next season and I gave them the bad news, "nope."

Then they called me up to play my first match.

I broke and ran, came back for the high fives and almost every single one of them said, "really, gonna quit?"

As the night went on, I realized I was glad I went.  Better than being home moping in my own little misery of the CRAPPY day I had.  I was having fun at league.  They were making me laugh.  I was having a good time. 

I lost my next two matches, but the next two matches my opponents broke dry each time and I ran out.  Again from my team "you can't quit - look how good you are playing."

We finished the night at 9:15pm!  I love this league how early they finish!

So, now I am torn.  People are telling me not to quit.  I'm still playing well.  But I don't even care about that.

My deepest concern is if I stop this league too (because I'm not going to be playing on Thursday nights after the season in my other league), will I even go out?  What will I do?  Go home and do nothing and never see anyone and never laugh with friends or see my pool friends anymore?  I do plan on doing more outdoor activities.  Maybe also take some classes.  But will I?

I am SO torn right now.

I really DON'T want to play league, but I think it might be good for my soul, if that makes sense.

Others are saying to just take a break.  Man, I don't want a break from playing, I just don't want to play league anymore.  Been there; done that.  And I ONLY played league to qualify for state and national tourneys.  Does this mean the page has turned and I would actually play league because it's fun on Tuesdays and gets me out of the house??

I don't know what to do.

I will still be around pool as I run the Omega Billiards Tour, but I just don't want to play league.  But do I want to be able to see a few friends once a week?  OR is seeing my friends at the Omega stops enough?  Or, if I REALLY want to get out I could go to a local tourney and not be committed to league?

I just really don't know what to do...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Standing Alone

I have written several times or at least alluded to the fact that I would love for a boyfriend to want to watch me play pool and be supportive.  My girlfriends and I talk about this common wish a lot.

I recall one boyfriend took a nap during a team event in Vegas and missed us WINNING a national championship.  Still a little mortified over that selfishness.

What do we want, you might be asking yourself?  We would like someone to watch us and support us.  A loved one we can look in the crowd at when we make a good out for that look of acceptance or happiness, or when we feel embarrassed, to lock eyes and say it's okay with just the look of your eyes.  Someone who watched a match and you can ask them afterwards, "what could I have done different?"  Someone who would be right there to hug you after you win (or lose).  Someone who feels extremely happy for you when you win a tough match, or has their shoulder ready when we lose a really tough, important battle.

I know - it's all mushy!

I'm not talking about every day matches or every day tournaments, I'm talking at title tournaments.  HUGE tournaments.  Life-changing events you might find yourself in the finals of.  

While I stand envious and jealous of the girls who have their supportive husbands and boyfriends watching their every move on the pool table, I recently realized this:

Almost every big tourney I've won in the last few years was when I was broken up.

Isn't that weird?  In the last two years, especially, my boyfriend would break up with me right before a big event and yet I would still do well and even won several very big events (BCA Texas State singles, ACS 9-Ball Singles at Nationals, BCA State Scotch Doubles two years in a row, etc).  My previous ex, he was there when I won ACS State singles, but we were in a fight because I was begging him to watch me play and be supportive.

Turns out what my friends had all been telling me all along - I don't need anyone there to support me to do well.  Sure, I WISH I did - but I didn't - and yet I still prevailed.

Would have been nice to share the moments with a boyfriend and hug him right after a sought-after title, but nope.

But, I was STILL successful!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Miscommunication 101

At our very first scotch doubles match in the Open Scotch Doubles event at BCAPL Nationals at the end of July, my partner and I are up 2-0 or so in a race to 4.

At some point during this third game, the female of the other team is standing at the table kinda confused.  She gets down to shoot a certain shot and her opponent stops her.

Uh, hold up - what's going on here?

He says something to her, and they motion to each other and then he says, "time out" to us and walks towards her.

Time out?!  HOLD ON!

I stop them and say, "uh, excuse me, there isn't any time outs in scotch doubles."

The guy says to me, "Yes there is."

"No, there isn't," I counter.

He tells me, "we did it last year."

"Um in what league?"  I ask.

"This one."

I told him, "I have been playing in this event like 10 years, it hasn't been allowed for YEARS," as he's looking at me confused.

I ask nicely, "Can I ask the ref?"

"Sure," he says, "sounds good."

I go up to the ref that is literally just feet away from us, "Uh, excuse me, but are time outs allowed?"

He looks at me and replies, "yes."

I'm like OMG REALLY?

I asked, shocked, "since when?"

Ref's reply:  "Since as long as I can remember."


I go back to the table and tell my partner first, "he says there are time outs."

So, the guy goes back to the table to tell his opponent the better shot to shoot.

I ask a friend of mine who is playing next to us, "hey, are time outs allowed?"

She replied to me laughing, "No, Melinda, we've been playing in this event over ten years and they have never allowed it.  Come on."   It was ironic she said ten years, too, lol.

So I go up to another ref and he says the SAME thing.  I'm about to lose my mind - has my memory REALLY gotten that bad??  I know I had two concussions in the last year but REALLY?

So I go up to the first ref, "I'm sorry, but can you ask the head ref for us, please?"

He says sure.

At this point,  my partner is like, "cool - let's take time outs."  LMAO.  It's funny because we don't need any.

The head ref shows up and they call me over.

"What is your question ma'am?"

"Thank you.  Are time outs allowed?"



Then he adds, "you can take a five minute time-out for a bathroom break."

I ask, "no, for coaching?"  He says, "Oh no, not for coaching, just to go to the bathroom."

Even the first ref adds, "no, not for coaching."

Communication 101 people - be very SPECIFIC when you ask questions, lol.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Defending People's Character

The one thing I have learned the hard way is that no matter how much you say you aren't a cheater or sharker, or no matter how much you stress to someone a certain player isn't, it wont change their mind.  And nothing will.

Once a player is in a match and they witness their opponent move when they shoot, or talk while down on their shot, or take too many bathroom breaks, or they "think" they lied about a foul, the damage is already done.  And nothing you can say will ever make that player think their opponent didn't do those things intentionally.

I see the glass half full.  So, when I hear someone sharked someone else, I just simply don't believe them.  And, if I know them personally and I know that's not even in them to do that, I will defend them even more.

But, it doesn't matter what I say - the person already thinks ill things about the player and the damage is already done. 

It's sad too, but it's the truth. 

And what's worse is - the player who "felt" being sharked against, will never forget and will always think that player is a cheater or sharker.

During competition, emotions can run high (especially if you are losing).  And it causes us to not think clearly or rational sometimes.  And when a situation occurs while we are competing our little hearts out that looks like sharking, we just can't imagine it isn't really sharking.

People on the sidelines see something completely different.  Why?  Because we aren't in the midst of the competition ourselves.  We are a bystander and see the whole situation different.  AND, we do not have any emotions invested like the competitors themselves do.  So, each we see the same situation completely differently.

But when you are the one on the receiving end, it doesn't matter what you hear afterwards, your mind is already made up.  And no matter what I say or try to defend the player, they just wont listen or hear me. 

Even when we try to defend ourselves, it just doesn't work.  The perception of being a sharker or cheater is already there.  And it's extremely frustrating when people don't believe us.  "That is NOT who I am!"  But we aren't listened to; no one believes us; the damage is done.  We will forever be labeled as a sharker or cheater to that person.  It's a done deal. 

Yes, I know there are cheaters and we all know who they are - but it's the ones that aren't, who are on the receiving end of an unfortunate situation, that pay the price for one offense or for a misinterpreted situation. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More Tools in the Toolbox - Example from a Pro

I wrote before how there are many tools in our toolboxes that we may not even be using, or have thought of.

I heard about one such tool while I was in Vegas for BCAPL Nationals.

During one of the pro events, Shane Van Boeing (SVB) was playing Alex Pagulayan.  If you don't know Alex or haven't ever seen him, he's a short, animated player who lives in Canada but from the Philippines.  SVB is another top professional pool player from the US.

The match was close - maybe 8-8 or so and SVB found himself in a position after the break with no shot, so he decided to roll-out.

He surveyed the table and saw that his best choice was to roll out to a jump shot.

HOWEVER - it wasn't just ANY jump shot.  He left the cueball to where Alex could NOT jump because of his height!  Alex actually jumps very well - but if he can't reach it, well....

So, Alex had no choice but to hand back the table to SVB.  Alex joked, "I blame my parents!"

It was super funny, actually.

But, SVB used a great tool in his toolbox - he literally sized up his opponent when he decided where to leave the roll-out jump shot.

Pretty clever, imo.

SVB jumped the ball, made it, and ran out.  However, Alex eventually won the match 10-9.

Remember all your available tools!

Saturday, August 1, 2015


I shared before how when I came home after being crowned a 3-time National ACS Champion last year, that I was depressed and very alone.  I had no one to share my accomplishments with and it was quite sobering.

Fast forward a year later and my friend Kimmy placed 2nd in that same ACS 9 Ball tourney I had won the previous year.  I was SO happy for her!

Although she was among friends, her boyfriend was not there with her.  After she came home, and started back at work, he sent her flowers to congratulate her!  It was one of the sweetest things I think I ever saw!  He lived out of state and was still "celebrating" with her and congratulating with her with flowers.  It really touched me and I thought it was super, super sweet.

Before I even got home from BCAPL Nationals this week, my friend Courtney said she wanted to have dinner to celebrate.  I admit, I cried when I read the text.  It meant SO much!

We met up last night at Pappadeaux:

I hardly ever see my friend Courtney anymore because I don't have my Sunday league and am slowing down on my Thursday league.  So, it was cool to have dinner and talk about my 5th place and to catch up about her family, and for her to even think of getting together to celebrate.