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SPetty
05-26-2005, 12:48 PM
You have to register to get to this story, so I'm copying and pasting for your reading pleasure... These schools are all in the greater Dallas, TX area.
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A pastime a team can bank on

Teacher hopes billiards can add learning to students' free time


08:50 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 25, 2005


By ELIZABETH LANGTON / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News


Sam Jolly's classroom at Berkner High School is part computer lab, part pool hall.

Yes, pool hall.

Mr. Jolly sponsors Berkner's billiards team, an after-school program with 23 official members who compete in a league against three area schools. Dozens more students flock to the classroom to play after school and during free periods.

"It's a good place for the students to come and stay rather than hanging out in the halls," he said.

Earl Munson, a Billiards Congress of America certified instructor who started the league four years ago, said Berkner was the first high school in Texas to make pool an after-school activity and possibly the first in the country with pool tables in a classroom.

"We're the pilot program," he said.

Mr. Jolly said he considers pool an alternative sport for kids who don't play football, baseball or soccer. He brought the tables into his classroom because they can also be used as teaching tools.

"You can sit them down in a classroom; you can teach a student to memorize. But if they have no concept of where it's applied, how it's applied, they can't apply it to a new problem," he said. "The problem with life is, there is more than one variable. And I can show them that on the pool table.

"It works. It opens the kids' eyes up."

Mr. Munson volunteers his time to coach the student pool players.

"If we can give these students another opportunity to participate, it's going to make them feel better about school and be more involved," he said.

Hundreds of students at the four participating schools tried out in the fall, Mr. Munson said. His daughter, Katie, plays on the Sachse High School team. Mr. Jolly's daughter, Samantha, has been on the Berkner team for two years.

"I've been fascinated by it," 16-year-old Samantha said.

Plano Senior High and Rockwall High also have teams in the program. This year, Berkner won the league's 8-ball championship, dubbed the Texas Billiards Congress of America High School Championship. Mr. Munson, who administers the league, is looking for more schools to join next year.

Mr. Munson attributes Berkner's success to the school's tables, which allow extra practice time.

Howard Kincaid, a Berkner staff member, donated the school's first table a 50-year-old, 7-foot snooker table. Mr. Kincaid, an avid player, often challenges the student players after school.

Tai Vo, the father of a team member and owner of a billiards business, then gave the school two 9-foot Brunswick tables.

"A lot of us got a lot better," sophomore Timmy Vo said about having the tables in the classroom.

Practice and consistency yield good pool playing, Timmy said, but he also believes in having a feel for the game.

"It's more of an art for me," said the 16-year-old, who's been playing since about age 5. "I can visualize the shots, see what's going to happen next."

D.J. Pruitt, a Berkner team member who will compete next month in the Junior and Collegiate 9-Ball National Championships, said he works on his game three times a day. He perfects shots by trying to grasp the physics and geometry behind them.

"Understanding the things I learned in school made me a better player," the 16-year-old said.

After the championships June 15-19 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor D.J. will hold a national ranking as a junior player, Mr. Munson said. The contest attracts the country's best young players.

"The level of competition is pretty strong," he said. "Texas has not done very well in the past because there's virtually no junior programs."

But the profile of billiards is rising, Mr. Munson said. Many colleges include billiards as a sport, and the Billiards Congress of America offers college scholarships to high school seniors.

The International Olympic Committee came close to including billiards as an exhibition sports in the 2004 summer games, Mr. Munson said, and supporters hope to win approval in 2008.

"The social stigma of the game the smoky pool room that's gone," he said.

Although the students seem to enjoy the pool tables, Mr. Jolly said his motives for their presence remain serious. Students must maintain academic eligibility to play, which motivates them to stay interested and stay in school, he said.

"I do not intend to have the lovely sport of billiards spoil what I'm trying to do," he said. "My whole goal here is to have students go on to higher education or be successful in the workplace."

Elizabeth Langton is a Plano freelance writer. E-mail elizabeth_langton @yahoo.com.

Scott Lee
05-26-2005, 12:56 PM
SPetty...Thanks for the article! Maybe this will catch on in more schools, in other states too! Hope so!

Scott

9 Ball Girl
05-26-2005, 12:57 PM
I think it would also increase productivity here at work too! /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

littleCajun
05-26-2005, 01:00 PM
SPetty,
Just to let you know that me and Carl help out with Earl.

One of my students qulaified for Junior Nationals as well.

Tom_In_Cincy
05-26-2005, 01:06 PM
Hard Times and the Sacramento school district has had a 8am to 930am pool class offered for the last 6 years.

40-60 Juniors and Seniors have been regulars for the school year learning the rules, how to play and sportsmanship by our House BCA Instructor.

Lots of the students have 'ID' that will allow them to play at Hard Times for half price during any weeknite.

This program has been very successful and with all the cut backs with school programs in California in the past years, this one hasn't been affected. That speaks volumes for the school instructors and Hard Times' BCA certified instructor.

Scott Lee
05-26-2005, 01:32 PM
Kudos to Hard Times and Bart Mahoney! Nice to see a program not only NOT CUT, but continuing on a successful path, regardless of 'budget woes'!

Scott Lee

Brian in VA
05-26-2005, 01:46 PM
SPetty,
Thanks for putting a smile on my face. What a great program!

Brian in VA

Leviathan
05-26-2005, 02:15 PM
Hi, SPetty. I wonder whether the school's math and physics teachers are aware of Dr. Dave's web site. Kids who play pool might be interested in the math and physics of the game.--AS

Sid_Vicious
05-26-2005, 02:18 PM
"Howard Kincaid, a Berkner staff member, donated the school's first table a 50-year-old, 7-foot snooker table"

I never heard of a 7' snooker table...sid

Terry
05-26-2005, 03:15 PM
Thanks, SPetty. It's nice to see the kids being the focus for a change. I hope the kids and program do great. It's a game you can fall in love with in a hurry and if the kids work hard at their studies to stay in the pool program than they'll see that hard work can take you anywhere you want to go. Wouldn't it be great if kids could get scholarships for universities through being good at pool like some people get for basketball,football,hockey etc.Thanks, Terry