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PQQLK9
03-01-2005, 05:28 AM
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TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE-The Herald
One of nine master billiards instructors in the world, David MacNeill of Bradenton lines up a shot as he gives instruction to Jim Sellars.

Posted on Tue, Mar. 01, 2005

David MacNeill uses psychology, technology to teach pool

DUANE MARSTELLER

Herald Staff Writer

BRADENTON - To the casual or occasional player, pool is an uncomplicated game.

Take a cue stick. Strike a white ball with it. The goal: Hit another ball into one of six pockets.

For David MacNeill, it's more complex than that.

While others might see randomly scattered balls on a pool table, MacNeill sees a constantly changing geometric puzzle. To solve that puzzle, he doesn't rely just on sight and hope for good luck - he uses his knowledge of linear rotational energy, the physics of colliding spheres and geometry to set up shots.

"Every time you break the balls there are different problems that result, and I love to solve problems," said the part-time Bradenton resident, who once took the Mensa exam on a lark - and scored well enough to join the international society of super-intelligent people. "If you know how they (balls) act against each other, it's amazing what you can do."

Needless to say, MacNeill is not a casual pool player.

He's a master of the game.

So says the Billiard Congress of America, the sport's governing body. Last month it certified MacNeill as a master billiards instructor - a group with just 11 members worldwide.

"It's quite an honor to be included in that group," said MacNeill, who lives in Southington, Conn., and spends five months a year in Bradenton.

It took MacNeill nearly a decade to achieve that status. He now passes on his wisdom to students at his Billiard Academy of Florida, based at Livingston Billiards at 6239 14th St. W., and another academy he operates near his Connecticut home. He also teaches billiards at the University of Connecticut.

It's a long way from a bowling alley in MacNeill's hometown of Brockton, Mass., 50 years ago. It was there that MacNeill, then a 14-year-old pin setter, first picked up a pool cue.

"They had a club with a pool table," MacNeill said. "I would get there (to work) a little early, so I played pool to pass the time."

Along the way, he gleaned knowledge and honed his game. Although he never played professionally, he gained a reputation as someone willing to pass on tips to others.

It wasn't until he was in his 50s that MacNeill began teaching organized classes.

"I didn't call what I did before teaching," he said. "People just asked me, and I helped them as much as I could."

In 1996, MacNeill began the process of obtaining his master instructor certification. As a student, he impressed his teacher.

"David is, without a doubt, one of the best instructors I've ever worked with," said Randy Goettlicher of Dallas, also a master instructor. "The key to being a great instructor is to never stop learning, and that's David. He is a learned man."

MacNeill has the degrees, including a master's in business administration and a doctorate in organizational development, to back that up.

But if it weren't for a chance meeting, his formal education would have stopped well short of high school graduation: MacNeill had dropped out to work in the local factories.

"Most guys I knew did that," he said. "It was a factory town."

He was delivering milk when he first met Celia, who was working as a waitress and short-order cook to put herself through college. After repeatedly declining his requests for a date, an older waitress named Eva suggested Celia say 'yes' just once.

She did the next time MacNeill asked. In 1967, they were married.

"We invited Eva to our wedding," Celia MacNeill said. "I was so glad I took her advice. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have gotten married."

With his wife's encouragement, MacNeill returned to school and earned his high-school equivalency diploma that same year. He was 26.

"Next thing I knew, I was going to community college," he said. "Then university. Then grad school."

After earning his degrees, MacNeill worked several years at the Casual Corner clothing-store chain's headquarters in Springfield, Mass., and Enfield, Conn. He later spent 25 years as chief executive of Elim Park Place, a senior-living facility in Cheshire, Conn., before retiring in 2003. His wife continues to do part-time marketing work there.

Winters in Bradenton

The couple began spending winters in Bradenton in 2002, and MacNeill opened his Florida academy soon thereafter.

"We vacationed in Florida for years," he said. "Of all the places we've been to in Florida, we liked Bradenton the best."

MacNeill charges $600 for three-day classes at the local academy, which tends to attract intermediate and advanced players. The classes are a mix of technique, strategy and psychology, with some technology thrown in: MacNeill sometimes uses videotape to analyze players' strokes and a radar gun to measure the speed of the cue ball on a break.

Students have various reasons for seeing MacNeill. He's taught professional players, including Paul "Sammy the Glove" Mangiafico, who wanted to improve some aspect of their games or snap a slump. He's had doctors who simply wanted to play well enough to be able to compete with their children. He's taught numerous league players looking to become more competitive.

"Pool's an interesting sport," MacNeill said. "It's a great equalizer. People from all walks of life play it. But basically, it's a lot of fun."

David MacNeill

AGE: 64

LOCAL RESIDENCE: Bradenton

OCCUPATION: Retired administrator, billiards instructor

BIRTHPLACE: Brockton, Mass.

FAMILY: Wife, Celia; son, Jonathan; daughters, Jennifer and Heather; three grandchildren

Duane Marsteller, transportation and growth/development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630, or at dmarsteller@HeraldToday.com.
web page (http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/living/11017746.htm)

ChuckR
03-01-2005, 07:01 AM
What a nice article. It's kind of refreshing to read something that really is about pool and some of it's every day hero figures. To see someone putting something back into the game for a change. Thanks PQQLK9!!! ChuckR

Stretch
03-01-2005, 10:06 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote ChuckR:</font><hr> What a nice article. It's kind of refreshing to read something that really is about pool and some of it's every day hero figures. To see someone putting something back into the game for a change. Thanks PQQLK9!!! ChuckR <hr /></blockquote>

Ya putting back into the game at 600 bucks for 3 days. lol But yes i'm sure he's a great guy. Nice story too. See? Sometimes good things happen to good people. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Not always the Road Worrier route. St.

Barbara
03-01-2005, 10:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Stretch:</font><hr> Ya putting back into the game at 600 bucks for 3 days. lol But yes i'm sure he's a great guy. Nice story too. See? Sometimes good things happen to good people. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Not always the Road Worrier route. St. <hr /></blockquote>

Stretch,

RandyG's Pool School was one of the best things I could've done for my game! And Dave was one of the instructors!

I highly recommend you try one some time.

Barbara

Nostalgia
03-01-2005, 11:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Stretch:</font><hr>Ya putting back into the game at 600 bucks for 3 days. lol But yes i'm sure he's a great guy. Nice story too. See? Sometimes good things happen to good people. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Not always the Road Worrier route. St. <hr /></blockquote>

Cheaper than 2 days with Allison for $1900. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

-Joe

pooltchr
03-01-2005, 07:01 PM
$600 for 3 days
$200 per day
$25 per hour
24 hours with a Master Instructor.....PRICELESS!

I would bet there are more than a few on this board that have lost that much and more in one night at the pool table.

randyg
03-02-2005, 07:13 AM
pooltchr: Most people spend more on their cues than on lessons...go figure.....SPF-randyg

rukiddingme
03-02-2005, 09:52 AM
when is the pool school travelling to chicago?
ruk

randyg
03-02-2005, 10:35 AM
Pool School will be very close to Chicago in August....SPF-randyg

Rackin_Zack
03-02-2005, 11:02 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote randyg:</font><hr> pooltchr: Most people spend more on their cues than on lessons...go figure.....SPF-randyg <hr /></blockquote>

It's much the same as people spending money on high-powered performance cars and don't spend any on learning how to drive them!

After next week I'll have spent about a grand on lessons, however, I will have spent about six or seven times that on cues.

Stretch
03-02-2005, 11:11 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Barbara:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Stretch:</font><hr> Ya putting back into the game at 600 bucks for 3 days. lol But yes i'm sure he's a great guy. Nice story too. See? Sometimes good things happen to good people. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Not always the Road Worrier route. St. <hr /></blockquote>

Stretch,

RandyG's Pool School was one of the best things I could've done for my game! And Dave was one of the instructors!

I highly recommend you try one some time.

Barbara <hr /></blockquote>

Hi Barb! So you went back too school too? I'm jealous. I'm so far out in the country i gotta come out to go hunting lol. If i'm ever down that way i'll check my pockets and maybe swing it if i can camp in someones back yard, or under a table or something /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

I find that the CCB itself has been a great correspondents course if i can put it that way. But you can't beat the personal attention of a Proven Instructor. Good for a boost. St~~needs some cold crank amps.~~

Barbara
03-02-2005, 12:20 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Stretch:</font><hr>I find that the CCB itself has been a great correspondents course if i can put it that way. But you can't beat the personal attention of a Proven Instructor. Good for a boost. St~~needs some cold crank amps.~~

<hr /></blockquote>

Yep! Don't we know that!!

Barbara~~~misses that Proven Instructor...