Juniors develop stick skills in league

For 12 weeks, a group of 26 youth played in B.C.’s only sanctioned junior billiards league.

Faren McCarron and Lewis Plager-Webb shoot a game of pool during BC EH Penticton Junior League at Cue’s GameRoom in Penticton. The league finished on April 27 and a fall league is likely to be started.

Faren McCarron and Lewis Plager-Webb shoot a game of pool during BC EH Penticton Junior League at Cue’s GameRoom in Penticton. The league finished on April 27 and a fall league is likely to be started.

For 12 weeks, a group of 26 youth played in B.C.’s only sanctioned junior billiards league.

BCEH Penticton Junior League also happens to be the only one in Canada, said Paul Sapp, a Billiards Congress of America PL head referee, who has done extensive research.

Sapp, a B.C. EH Pool League operator who sells Diamond tables, teamed up with Tim Scott of Cue’s Game Room Grill and Pizzeria to form the league. The two have covered the costs so the first year doesn’t cost a penny to the players, who are 12 to 18 years old. The players gathered during the final weekend of April to wrap up the league, which competed Saturdays.

Cam MacArthur said it’s fun to play and got into the recreational sport through his father. What he likes best about the league are the people he plays with and against. While the players don’t have to call their shots, they keep score and have standings. It adds a competiveness that MacArthur likes. Rae McCarron has enjoyed it.

“You get to talk to people, connect with friends, make new friends,” she said.

Sapp and Scott said the kids have been great.

“Exceptional responses,” said Sapp of the players. “Before they couldn’t hold a cue.”

The biggest thing that has impressed Sapp is their attitudes. He gave them a set of rules to abide by and they have followed it. They have even shown each other respect.

Sapp, who described pool as chess on wheels, teaches them how to play as he comes in every Saturday at 1 p.m. and gives them one solid tip. After, he just watches them put it to use.

“Everyone was shooting bad because it was their first time playing,” said McCarron, who has developed a reputation for defeating her brother Faren. When you come in here, you learn how to play.”

She likes the approach Sapp takes that allows them to learn on their own.

“Breaking was one of my bad points when I got here,” she said. “I wasn’t holding the cue properly.”

Another thing McCarron learned is to look at all the balls around her to help with making the next shot. Natai Willms has thrived from getting tips from Sapp. Learning from him has helped her enjoy the game, which she isn’t too competitive about. In the time she has played, Willms has improved her angles play and breaking.

MacArthur, who dreams of going to Las Vegas for the World Juniors championships next year, said he’s learned a lot from the coaching.

“He’s been a great help,” said MacArthur of Sapp. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.”

MacArthur too has learned the proper way to hold the cue. He’s also learned about strategy.

While the spring season has ended, they get one last shot at competitive action this weekend

during the sixth annual BCAPL Canadian Open Series 8-Ball tournament at the Penticton Curling Club. Sapp has the group playing in a special division in the BCA tournament. McCarron said she can’t wait for it.

“If I’m playing my brother, beating him,” she said is what she looks forward to. “I’m hoping to beat other people and get a higher average.”