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Visions of the Future. ~ Sherri Smith

They are anxiously waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Murmuring between groups can be heard and an occasional laugh. Someone calls out to another person and joking begins to happen. The lights come on and the group gets antsy.

Finally, the key turns in the lock and the door is flung open. The crowd surges forward and begin to scatter throughout the room. What is this? A group waiting for a concert? Are they waiting in line to buy the newest electronic gadget?

Not this group. They are waiting for Starship Billiards to open their doors on Saturday morning. This group ranges in age from seven to twenty, and they are ready to shoot pool.

Players find their table with their paperwork, order something from Stephanie Bender, and they look at their opponents. Stephanie is a special person who manages this great establishment, and yes, she chooses to work Saturday mornings while the Juniors are playing. No, the tips aren’t the greatest, but she has a passion for Junior APA Pool.

This group of Decatur Juniors are receiving more and more attention in the world of Junior Pool.

Jerry Brown, who has a son and a daughter playing, is the leader and mentor for this group of kids. He is perfect for the role of mentoring and coaching. Last spring, he led a group of 22 Juniors to the APA Nationals in Davenport, Iowa. They all had a wonderful time and placed high in the standings, with Serena Black and Timmy Bly taking first in their divisions.

In August, the BEF hosted a Junior Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada with five Juniors representing Decatur. Timmy Bly, Serena Black, Katlin Schilling, Zachary Johnson and Colton Adams represented our area.

Billiards is trying to change the perception of the world about this sport. The future of billiards is with our young Junior players.

This amount of participation is not luck or chance. They have a wonderful support system. Parents and grandparents bring their kids to play every Saturday. They stay to support and cheer them on. Each team has an adult supervisor to be sure the games are played on time and to help keep track of the scoring system.

The supervisors are not the only adult support this league enjoys. APA director, Kim Jones, is a huge supporter, in addition to Tom Fankhauser, who operates the BCA/ACS league.

In order to help our five Juniors go to Vegas, these two, along with Bill Pickerell and Robert Black, organized a benefit tournament. Dave Carr and Michael Durbin also helped sponsor this event, which took place at Starship Billiards in Decatur, Illinois. Teams and players from the surrounding area came to participate and show their support.

Everyone who participated, helped get these five to Las Vegas by raising over $6,000.

These kids are excited about the game of billiards, an excitement fueled by the awesome support of parents and loads of coaching, teaching, and mentoring by some wonderful adults in our area. They represent us well while playing with good sportsmanship and respect for the game.

Do you have an active Junior League in your area? If not, talk to your league operator and get one started.

These players will be the face of billiards in the future. You can help make that happen by starting and supporting a Junior Pool League in your area. You won’t regret it!

Sherri Smith lives and plays pool in Central Illinois. She plays on ACS/BCA on Monday, and APA on Sunday and Wednesday. She is mother of five — one daughter (and her fiance) play on their Sunday night team. Sherri and husband Steve have 20 grandkids and three great-grandkids. Out of the 20, five are actively on either an APA roster, ACS/BCA, or Valley roster. She is a published writer with a trilogy of Christian inspirational novels, one book of poetry, and one children’s book. Photo: Flickr/Venturist Editor: Kristen Maciejowski

Sponsored by POV Pool and Jacoby Custom Cues

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