Billiards 'therapy' for AP man
TBO.comSEBRING - While many players say billiards is a game of skill and that very little physical strength is needed, they have not met Herb Adkins of Avon Park.
Published: September 8, 2012
Published: September 8, 2012
Adkins, who has cerebral palsy, uses a walker to maneuver around the pool table. His arms hold up his body since his legs are immobile. This amount of strength is incredible especially when an athlete is playing three games of billiards non-stop for 1.5 hours like Adkins had to do on Sept. 1 during the Special STARS Billiards Tournament at Cue Time Billiards.
Adkins practiced with Special STARS for an hour for two Saturdays prior to the tournament and even practiced on his own during the week. Each practice conditioned his body and he became stronger.
"I don't need physical therapy if I keep playing pool," Adkins said.
Adkins aims his cue stick at the cue ball by carefully leaning his walker onto the table so his body presses against it to allow him to shoot. He does this while still using his arms to hold his weight up. After shooting, he balances himself back up so he can drag his feet with the walker to his next shot on the table.
"Some players really gave me a workout by making me walk around the table," he said.
A normal player would most likely not even perspire while playing the game, but Adkins was drenched from head to toe. His shirt was soaking wet after his billiard workout last Saturday.
"I am exhausted," Adkins said. "I know I will sleep good tonight when I get home."
Adkins accomplished a lot that day, but his workout was not yet over because he still had to use his walker to get out to the van that takes him home and then unload. He lives independently in his own place and maneuvers around his home with the walker, or he crawls. Adkins has a wheelchair, but he chooses to keep his body in good physical condition by using the walker.
"Some people think I am being stubborn, but I just want to keep doing what I can for as long as I can," Adkins said.
Adkins played in the Skilled Level, which is a more advanced level of billiards. There were 13 athletes in the division and Adkins placed fourth. He worked his way up the ladder by playing three different opponents before finally getting beat in the single-elimination tournament.
"I'm just happy I made it through the tournament," he said. "Getting fourth is better than I did last year."
Although he did not receive a trophy, he did win a medal for his efforts.
Special STARS hosted the seventh annual billiards tournament at Cue Time this year with 45 athletes competing. There were four levels — Beginners, Middle, Skilled and Masters.
At the Masters Level, the athletes play by regular billiards rules. In the Skilled Level, players don't have to call pockets because they are still learning the rules of the game. A ladder was designed for the advanced players competition.
The Middle and Beginners levels are based around a ball count instead of a win/lose situation. Beginners use a stick with a cue ball attached at the end while the middle level uses a regular pool stick, but they do play ball in hand which means they can place the cue ball anywhere they want on the table.
Trophies were presented to the best three athletes in all four levels. Ribbons were presented in divisions within the beginners levels and medals were handed out to the advance players.
Cue Time Billiards owner Chuck White surprised the special athletes by offering a free drawing for a new cue stick. Special STARS athlete Amelia Titus won the stick.
Trophy winners in the Beginners Level were Jacquelyn Furry, first place; Maricel Moreno, second place; and Megan Eisnaugle, third place.
Middle Level trophy winners were Sara Canali, first place; Katie Gibson, second place; and Mac Smith, third place.
In the Skilled Level, the trophy winners were Nicole Lewis, first place; Brian Harrison, second place; and Emily Lavely, third place.
The trophy winners in the Masters Level were Eddie Thomas, first place; Amelia Titus, second place; and Owen Barnhill, third place.