Winning a trophy at the International Pool Championships in Vegas is what the top amateur players strive for. "It's the best of the best," says local player Jeff "Hubie" Huber. "You're just one step away from the pros." Teammate Terry Miller adds, "ever since I started playing pool it's been a dream of mine."
And if you have the dream, you have to have the skills. "There's a lot of strategy that goes with pool," says team captain Kerry Cavanaugh."
Miller adds, "making the ball is just the first part. It's making the next 6 that count. A lot of dedication and practice. Hours and hours and hours of pool. Does it always go according to plan? It's really nice when it does. But no."
But this season things did go Miller and Cavanaugh's way. "We play together here at Snuffy's and we won the Thursday league in La Crosse."
So they decided to give the International Championships a try, only problem, "our whole team couldn't go."
But under league rules they are allowed to take players from other teams - as long as they come from the same charter. "I want the 5 best guys that we can get. Let's go get this this," says Miller.
"We got Jeff Christianson and Gregg Evans from Charlie's Inn. Their team's been winning the league for years."
"It was a no-brainer. I just had to ask my wife," says Evans.
"And then we got Jeff Huber, Hubie from the crazy 'L' team and he's been one of the top players for years and years in the state. The talent is unbelievable. But even more so, the team jelled together. We were out there for two weeks." And they were confident going in, chalk it up to the combined 160 years of pool playing under their belts. But in Vegas they would faced the best players around the world. "There were teams from Portugal, Australia and you never know who you're going to run into."
"We felt really good going in." "When we were beating everyone in the round Robin we thought, 'we've really got a chance at this.'"
"When somebody was stumbling the other 4 guys would pick them up." "Once we had locked up third place and we realized we were going to get one we thought, 'hey man, we might actually win this!"
Jeff "JC" Christianson was in the championship match when his opponent scratched on the break. "All I ask for is a chance when I play pool and I got my chance. And I ran out the rack to win it all. It was awesome."
"It was a dream come true. Always dreamed of winning a trophy out there." "It's starting to sink in a little more each day. It's just an indescribable feeling." "One of the best feelings I've ever had." "I actually almost started crying because my dreams just came true."
They now go back to being competitors, but will forever share in the title - World Champions. "It's a big deal. For La Crosse to bring home a gold is really something special."