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08-01-2004, 08:37 PM
http://graphics.jsonline.com/graphics/news/img/aug04/rivas080104-125.jpg
By JESSE GARZA
jgarza@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Aug. 1, 2004
Jose Rivas Jr. walks softly and carries a big stick - a 19-ounce, McDermott cue stick, that is.

Jose Rivas Jr.




Jose, of West Milwaukee, was awarded the stick when he placed second, nationally, in the 14 and under category in last month's Billiard Congress of America's Junior 9-ball Championships in Tucson, Ariz.

And this month, at age 14, he'll be the youngest player ever to compete in the congress' "artistic pool" competition in Las Vegas.

Artistic pool is a relatively new professional billiard sport that encompasses eight disciplines of pool shooting - trick shots, prop and novelty shots, draw, follow, banks/kicks, stroke, jump and masse.

"We watched this young man in Vegas, and he impressed everybody," said noted 9-ball artist and artistic pool pioneer Nate "Okinawa Slim" Bryant.

"He had the finesse of a professional."

Jose was in Las Vegas in May with his dad, who was competing in a BCA national, five-man 8-ball tournament. A team was short a player, so the team captain asked Jose Sr. if Jose Jr. might want to fill in.

"He won more games than anyone else on the team," the proud dad said of his son. "And he had the most table-runs."

During the tournament, the younger Jose signed up for the event's artistic pool competition and caught the eye of Slim and Tom "Dr. Cue" Rossman, the Godfather of artistic pool.

"Having taught the game all these years, I noticed a talent I thought could be tuned so that he could compete professionally," says the doctor, who won the World Masters Trick Shot Championship in 1982.

In Tucson, Dr. Cue encouraged Jose's dad to ask his son to enter the pro artistic competition this month in Las Vegas.

Jose has taken up the doctor's 40-shot professional artistic pool training regimen in preparation for the competition.

"I won't be nervous," says the incoming West Allis Central freshman, who just finished up at West Milwaukee Middle School.

"I'm just going to play like I know how to play."

Jose was introduced to pool by his dad, who has earned quite a rep in his own right in local pool-shootin' circles.

"He taught me how to hold the stick, how to use follow, draw and English," Jose said last week in his basement, where he dusted me in two games of 9-ball.

He then went on to demonstrate several of the 40 shots he'll need to learn for this month's competition.

Dr. Cue doesn't expect Jose to be among the top finishers in Las Vegas but says the kid from West Milwaukee has enough heart to surprise a lot of shooters.

"I warned him he's going against the best players in the world, and he said he's not afraid," Dr. Cue says. "He's got the heart of a tiger."

"No matter what happens, he'll be a winner."

Contact Jesse Garza at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee WI 53201-0371, or e-mail him at jgarza@journalsentinel.com. Monday's People appears on this page each week.

wantsumrice
08-01-2004, 08:48 PM
Reminds me of the good ol' saying, "You can never start too early."

~ivan