As well as playing competitively, I enjoy teaching what I have learned over the years at my academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. I teach alongside my friend and competitor Gerda Hofstatter, or “The G-Force,” as she is known on tour. I thought this month I would write about what it is like to be a professional player and who has made an impact on my career.
There are three people whom I really want to mention that have had a major influence in my life for different reasons. My first was my biggest fan, my father Peter. He traveled with me all over the world watching me perform over the years from a young girl to a young woman. He taught me about attitude. He really knew my potential, and he made me maximize it by working hard from a young age.
The good thing about my parents was that they never pushed me for something they wanted. They let me do it for me but encouraged me when I was down by reminding me that I could go to the local store to get a job if I wanted to. Nothing wrong with that, but they saw my talent and didn’t want me to waste it. I believe they instilled professionalism in me by making me take the game seriously.
The second person I want to mention is a former coach of mine, Frank Callan, from England. He coached many of the greatest snooker players in the world over the years. He approached my parents one day at a tournament and asked to teach me. He is the only coach of mine who ever had a huge impact on me. From him I learned consistency by creating a good, solid stroke. I didn’t see him much, but the times we had together really changed my life. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have won what I have.
Last but not least is Gerda Hofstatter, whom I have known for 12 years. When I first came to the United States in 1995, Gerda offered her knowledge immediately to help me out. I was new to 9-ball, having come from playing snooker, and I had many things to learn about playing pool. She started helping me out right before the Nationals in 1995, and I won the event. Ever since that time, Gerda has been my best friend, competitor, and teacher. I always say to her that if we could mix my fundamentals with her knowledge, we would make one great player!
The great thing about this sport is that no two players are the same. I think we all wish deep down that we have a little of what someone else has, whether it is consistency, attitude, professionalism, conduct, passion, or personality.
I turned professional when I was 17, and from then I have made my living playing snooker and pool. Once something goes from a hobby to a living, many things change because you don’t really have the luxury to fail. But, like everything, if you don’t enjoy it and thrive on it, then you may as well give it up. Many times in the past I nearly did, thinking I was missing out, but if I had, I really would have missed out! I have had so many great times and memories from cue sports that I would not change a thing. I want to thank the many people I have met along the way who appreciate what we do and who we are. I know I will look back one day and remember this as one of the greatest times in my life.