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Passing the Torch: The Game Found Us. ~ Justin Cutting

This story is about my daughter Tatum.

She “found” the game through me as a way to spend time and bond with her father. From the time she was born (2002) till 2008 I was an alcoholic (not ashamed to admit it). People always ask me how long Tatum has been playing for and how she got into the game. I tell them she picked it up because that was a way for her to spend time with me since I “wasn’t there” (emotionally) for her the first part of her life due to the alcohol.

In 2008 I quit drinking and found the game of pool. It was a hobby—a challenge since I had never played prior to that and so as my interest grew so did hers. In late ’10 early ’11 she decided to play instead of just watch me.

She learned very quick.

Some of this was from me, like the basics: Bridge, stroke and stance. Other than that using YouTube to help from some upper level players in our area and also she had  basic natural ability!

I would take her to local “adult” tourneys and she was always watching the better players and asking questions. Most were happy to show her the “how’s & why’s” of particular shots but some were put off by a kid bugging them. But for her putting the table time in, playing against upper level players (who didn’t take it easy on her) has developed her game leaps and bounds the past year.

When she goes back to her league to play with the other kids, you can see the advancement in her abilities versus the other “skill levels” she plays against.

With her wanting to play and wanting to learn I have renewed my passion for the game. It has made it fun again.

I know that a lot of people talked behind my back saying I shouldn’t bring a child to a pool hall or a “bar” atmosphere to play pool. But I wanted her to see the “bad side” of life with the hope that she won’t take that path. I wanted her to have these “life lessons” with me at her side so we can talk openly about them. Hopefully when she is older and on her own I will know in my heart that I showed her right from wrong and she will make good decisions.

Does that make me a bad person or parent? Maybe. But there isn’t a handbook on raising kids. 🙂

Knowing that I started playing for a purpose (to keep me from drinking, to occupy my time so I would keep my mind off of wanting to drink) and then hitting a wall—meaning I was terrible when I started—I eventually got pretty good. I then lost interest since my skill level advanced so quickly in the short time I’ve been playing and not being able to compete at that level. Now with her interest and progression, it has pushed me to be better at the table just as much as I am away from it.

So the game of pool can be a career for some, a hobby to others, but to Tate and myself it is so much more. It’s bonding time, it’s being beyond proud of the accolades and it’s comforting each other in the time of losing.

I strive to do better as does she.

But she is my motivation for success and I am the same to her.

So I’m thankful that I was able to find the game or  more accurately thankful the game found us!

Justin Cutting is a 36 year old construction foreman and has two children with his wife—Tatum 11 and Anthony 3. He has been playing pool for about five years and has played in the APA national 8 and 9 ball team event in 2012, APA doubles 8 and 9 ball in 2013 and then in 2014 he played in the APA 9 ball singles. Tatum has participated in the APA Junior nationals in 2013 and 2014 finishing 9th both years. She is an honor roll student.

Photo: Danielle Rocke Toews/source Editor: Dana Gornall

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