Owensboro recently sent a pool team to the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) World Championships in Las Vegas. That team of Tim Early, Jeff Robbins, Bethanie Early, Michael Brothers, Jody Beavin, and Shane Ball came home with a third-place trophy in a field of nearly 100 teams.
The tournament was an 8-ball format with five players from each team playing daily. Those players then battled each opponent from the opposing team.
“This was our first trip for BCA, and we really loved it,” said team captain Tim Early. “It was different from other tournaments. It was classier with a strict dress code. We were playing in the same rooms as many pros.”
The American Poolplayers Association (APA) has dominated the Owensboro pool scene for some time, but the BCA is emerging as another quality option. BCA games are primarily contested at Rocky’s Bar on 9th Street.
Early said the lack of pool establishments in the area hinders their ability to have more teams, but they are grateful for what they do have. He and his team are hopeful of earning a return trip to the World Championships next year.
Robbins is relatively new to pool, picking up a pool cue for the first time just 3 years ago. He quickly fell in love with the sport and described the Vegas trip as an indescribable experience.
“I came into it and fell in love with it. It’s addictive,” Robbins said. “The World Championships were huge. I couldn’t fathom what it would be like until I got there. There were hundreds of tables, and the pros were having a 10-ball tournament in the same room – it was overwhelming.”
Robbins added that his nerves and emotions were “all over the place” for the duration of the tournament. He said it took the team a while to get settled in, but they were tough to beat once they found a rhythm.
“I can’t even explain the nerves and emotions; there were times that I would miss shots because of my nerves,” he said. “After we finished and went to take a photo in front of the banner, that’s when my emotions hit me. This wouldn’t have crossed my mind three years ago.”
Owensboro’s rich history in billiards dates back to Nick Varner’s heyday when the southern Indiana native was dominating the professional circuit. The city once played host to the Camel Tour, one of the sport’s leaders in professional billiards series.
The BCA has experienced steady growth since its conception. Early and Robbins are hopeful that Owensboro will welcome more pool venues to the area and that existing ones will take on more teams.