The women’s pool team
By Duane Ausherman
Playing pool has been one of my favorite pastimes. I had never even seen a pool table until college. That is the main thing I learned in my short time in college. My skills were limited, but that didn’t matter much. On a “good day,” I would only be poor to mediocre in high-level competition. On a “bad day,” I shouldn’t do more than rack the balls for the “real” players.
I applied my interest in physics to pool, and that allowed me to develop what I call “Position Theory.” Pocketing a ball is easy, but placing the cue ball in position so that the next shot is easy, is harder. To position it so that the next several shots will be possible is the real game. Not a single book on the subject of pool dealt with playing “position.” How can that be?
While I was a decent player, I was even better at teaching the game. Pool halls often would allow me to teach students. My first high-level student was at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, while working as project manager for Craig Vetter. Later, I lived in Colorado Springs to manage the first Vetter Rally.
I finished my business with the Colorado Springs BMW dealer, and Burt’s Pool Hall was next door. I stopped in to knock a few balls around. I had a few hours to kill before a dinner date with my girlfriend. The place had nearly two dozen tables and was empty. I got the balls and went to the back to make sure that I would be alone for the next couple of hours of my practice.
A group of young women came in to play and walked back to where I was playing. They asked me how long I would be using the table. All of the tables were empty, so I asked, “Why do you want this one?” They explained that they were the pool hall sponsored team, and they were supposed to play on the table that I was using. They took the table next to me for practice, and I continued, but I was observing them out of the corner of my eye. After watching each player on the table, I interrupted and asked if I could show them something. They were kind enough to tolerate me butting in on their practice session.
Meeting them was pure luck. What were the chances that we would be there on the same day? The same time of day? On the same table out of a couple of dozen? Pure luck.
I demonstrated some necessary corrections. A few had incorrect posture for pool, and we worked on that. Then I started showing them advanced pool play. I learned that they had won the US Championship in 1980, but they weren’t the best team, but only second best. They felt that they had won by luck.
I called my girlfriend and canceled our dinner date so that I could keep working with this team.
They won the city, state, and then the USA championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was very proud of them.
One newspaper article about the National Championship.
The team captain, and a very good player, Barbara Campbell.
This photo shows the team just after winning the National title. See the “younger” me in the center.
My odd specialty is one that is useless but fun. I like to play one-handed. I have nothing supporting the cue stick, but one hand. I could sometimes run a table one-handed. So far, I have never been beaten in a one-handed game. If you specialize enough, you can be the best at it. It helps if you are the only one.
This video was filmed by Geraldine in 2019. I probably haven’t played pool more than once a year for the past 25 years. Those easy shots that I missed was due to attempting to get position by shooting the cue ball harder.
Updated 8 March 2020