I am a lesbian. I am a professional pool player. I am a survivor. Here is my story…

Okay, so if you know me, I’m very much out and emit a neon rainbow which leaves no doubt I’m a lesbian. I’ve also noticed I signalled that I’m in a safe place.

I’m someone you can talk to or ask questions… unless you’re a straight male with a question that starts with “Hey, can I ask you something?” In this case, my answer is, “Yes, I’m gay. Yes, I’m sure. No, it’s not because I haven’t been with the right man!”

Those who know me also know I’m involved in the pool community (billiards, not swimming). Some know me as a referee and tour director, and others know me as a professional competitor. Yes, professional billiards is a real thing and is considered a sport and not just a bar game to pick up chicks. That last part is just a bonus!

My dad taught me how to shoot pool when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until my 20’s that I began competing in pool leagues. I joined my brother’s team and became known as “Tim’s sister”. That title caused some flashbacks to high school, but it came with some perks. However, it also came with the stress of living up to the expectation of being able to compete at a higher level. 

Playing in leagues put me in pursuit of becoming a professional pool player. I practised. I did drill after drill. I practised right-handed. I practised left-handed. I made up new drills. I was determined to improve and become better every day.

In 2004 I started competing in the U.S. Amateur preliminary tournament in hopes of making it to the Championship event, where the winner gets invited to a professional tournament. I showed improvement each year, and it was common for me to place 4th, but only the 1st place winner received the opportunity to move on to the championship tournament.

In 2009 I made my best finish, landing in 3rd place. I was excited and proud of myself for finally reaching 4th place. I was eager to hit the slate and practice for the following year. 

2010 was going to be my year. All my hard work and dedication would pay off, and I was on my way to becoming a professional pool player. I was ready! I received my paperwork for the tournament and promptly returned my entry before the June deadline.

In August, the summer pool leagues were winding down for the session. August 30th 2010, league playoffs, will be a night I’ll never forget but also never remember.

Most of you don’t know this but I have brain damage. I had a head injury the night of the playoffs, which fractured my skull and left my brain bleeding in 2 places. I remember telling my neurologist, “I can’t smell or taste. I don’t know when I’m hungry.

I don’t know when I’m full. I get dizzy if I turn my head too fast. I lose balance sitting down, standing up, walking too fast, or moving my head up and down. I can’t remember most of the last month.

I can’t focus or pay attention for very long.” I also didn’t remember how to play pool and feared my career was over before it began. I wondered if I would still be attracted to women, but I quickly solved that mystery!

I had to start over. I had to learn everything again. I had to learn a new way – both in life and in the pool. The knowledge and experience are hiding under scar tissue in my brain; every day, a new road is being built to access that knowledge.

There are orange construction signs everywhere, but if I focus long enough, the detour signs lead me to success. I can occasionally feel instinct take over and make the game-winning shots or decisions that keep me on track toward my professional goal.

It was 2016 when I finally made my professional debut. I wasn’t as good as I used to be, but I managed to finish in the money in my first event. I’m not sure I’ll ever be as good as I used to be, but I keep trying. I keep pushing forward. I’ve played in several professional tournaments, and although I haven’t done particularly well, I AM proud of how far I’ve come and who I AM.