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SPetty
04-29-2006, 04:23 PM
Kim White rethought her priorities after her pinkie was injured by her Rottweiler.

http://images.chron.com/photos/2006/03/20/1713373/311xInlineGallery.jpg

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/3808525.html

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY
Pool player beats the odds

By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

In late October 2004, Houston's reigning billiards queen, Kim White, nearly lost what she considers her most valuable appendage, the pinkie finger on her left hand, to the jaws of a Rottweiler.

It was her Rottweiler, too.

She still loves Nate as much as a person can love an animal, and she almost feels grateful to him. The ordeal, brought on by her instinctive if perhaps unwise intervention in a territorial dispute between Nate and a newly arrived Lhasa apso she had inherited from her recently deceased grandmother, proved seminal in White's evolution as a pool player.

It brought new focus and new priorities. The perspective she has gained, she believes, counterbalanced the months of pain and frustrating setbacks she endured as doctors tried to fix the mangled digit, so essential to forming a stable bridge for the cue stick.

"That pinkie," she said, "rules my life."

A third operation to restore more movement in the finger will be necessary at the end of the year, after the current Women's Professional Billiards Association Tour ends. In the interim, she'll manage the best she can, which appears to be plenty good enough. At the most recent WPBA event, the Great Lakes Classic in Michigan City, Ind., barely a month after a second set of pins had been removed, White reached her first-ever semifinals before losing to Allison Fisher, the greatest lady pool shark ever.

The match, won by Fisher 7-4 after White had jumped out to a 2-0 lead, will be televised on ESPN May 19. This week White attempts to equal and maybe improve on that performance at the San Diego Classic, which finishes today at the Viejas Casino in Alpine, Calif. She'd like another crack at Fisher, who has won 57 titles over the last dozen years.

"I want to beat her," said White, who still seeks her first WPBA championship. "Everybody measures themselves against Allison. I feel like I had her last time and let her off the hook."

At 33, White is something of a late bloomer, although she has been around the game peripherally since childhood. She remembers there being a small table in the family home when she was a child, but she doesn't recall ever picking up a stick. Then, around the time she was graduating from high school Klein Oak, class of 1990 she found herself spending hours watching her boyfriend play with his brother and their buddies.

However, watch was all she did.

"The guys would never let me play," White said. "That irritated me, so we didn't last. And, as soon as we parted ways, about the first place I went was to find a pool tournament."

White was a natural, by all accounts. She had a good eye for shot lines plus a steady hand, and pressure didn't unnerve her. Once she discovered Bogies, a sprawling pool room off FM 1960 northwest of the airport that's long been a magnet for serious players, her serious billiards education began.

Taking a job as a waitress there, she accepted free table time as part of her pay. She also had a fortuitous meeting with a then-regular customer, Jerry Williams, who would eventually buy Bogies and become her sponsor.

"Kim takes it very seriously," Williams said. "She's willing to work hard and learn everything she can to get better. I've seen that in her since she was just a kid coming in here. I'm so proud of her for the way she is."

In 1998, when she won a major amateur championship in Las Vegas that bills itself as the largest eight-ball tour tournament in the world, she realized, "Wow, I can play."

By 2003, she had gone "from being a nobody to a somebody," ranked 10th on the WPBA Tour and honored as Billiards Digest's Most-Improved Player for the year. But she lost a "heartbreaking" match, 9-7 to one of the top players, Kim Shaw, that would have put her into a semifinal and on TV for the first time. The defeat cost her some confidence and her ascent stalled.

Then came the fateful afternoon, soon after her grandmother's funeral, when Nate inadvertently bit her finger.

"He had (the Lhasa apso) in his mouth and was shaking it terribly," White recalls. "I just lost it. I'm the biggest animal lover in the world, and I knew the little dog was in imminent danger. I jumped on top of them and tried to pull them apart. He wouldn't let go, so I put my hands in his mouth to try to pry it open. He chomped down. It was my fault for getting into the middle of it."

She was rushed to the nearest hospital, but ultimately wound up at the Methodist Hospital, under the care of Dr. James Stafford of the Baylor College of Medicine. He took one look at the grisly mess and concluded an operation would be necessary to save the finger. A significant chunk of flesh was missing, and one of the bones had a compound fracture.

Two pins had been inserted, and one of them soon needed to be pulled out because the finger was starting to twist grotesquely. After the second pin came out eight weeks later, White entered a small local tournament straight away and won it, which told her she could salvage her career.

"But I had to relearn how to shoot pool," she said.

The finger still hurts, and she has come to rely much more on the other three fingers for her bridge. In time, Stafford assured her, it should function almost as good as new.

"Before this all happened," White admitted, "I took my game for granted. I wasn't taking full advantage of my abilities. Now, after what I've been through, nothing is going to bother me."

White's effusive personality in combination with her pool-play talents her ranking has climbed back to 17th from a low of 47 have won her much respect and many friends among her rivals, who elected her president of the WPBA at the end of 2005. But if you run into White at Bogies, where she practices almost daily, don't be put off by her fancy title or her growing fame. Watch her run the table. You won't see many better players, male or female, anywhere in these parts, and she might deign to give you a game.

Think you can take her? Think again. Before she was so widely known in billiards circles, one Bogies customer "invested" several thousand dollars trying in vain to prove his superiority.

White is quick to remind she's a pro, though, not a hustler trolling for suckers.

"I'm always practicing to improve, not to deceive," she said. "I believe in making all the balls. If you practice missing, you'll miss in competition. So, when somebody asks me to play, I'm honest. I'll always tell them, 'If you're willing to give it a try, that's fine. But I play good.' "

Vagabond
04-30-2006, 07:14 PM
I always liked kim.

onepocketfanatic
05-02-2006, 12:39 AM
I read the article in the paper, and thought it was good. I think it stated she practiced at Bogies... I love their 9 foot arrangment, but it is a long way for me to drive.