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Pool Pro Takes A Shot At The IIlini Union

The Daily Illini

Scott Lee never dreamed he would one day take over for the man who inspired him to learn the game of pool.

Lee, an advanced instructor certified by the Billiard Congress of America and a renowned trick-shot artist, learned billiards and pool under instruction of billiard virtuoso Jack White. Lee became White’s protégé, and when White retired in 1995, Lee carried on the legacy. He has been performing on White’s former tour ever since.

One stop on that tour was the Illini Union Billiards Center, where he shared his knowledge of the game of pool and showcased numerous trick shots for a group of about 40 students Thursday.

“ Scott was here once before about four or five years ago to help students improve their game,” says Jeff Parkin, manager of the Illini Union Bowling and Billiard Center. “He travels around to colleges and universities across the country, teaching a little bit of history about the game as well as the instruction”

Lee’s Demonstration from 4 PM to 6 PM was to help “tutor” students in the art of the game. He spent the first hour at a table in the center of the room while students watched him. The second hour, students went to their own tables and passed through the room, offering individual pointers. From 7 PM to 8 PM and from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM, he performed his trick shots.

“ I first started playing in college…My roommate in the dorm played quite e bit,” Lee said. “Halfway through my first semester, Jack White, one of the greatest billiards and trick shot performers, came and gave a demonstration.

“ I was floored. I thought, ‘oh my God, if that’s pool, I’ve got to learn how to do that, and sought out professional lessons for myself.”

Immediately after college Lee began to play pool as a profession. He played 30 years before quitting in order to teach the game.

“ I did that many years and did very well, but it’s the life of a pro gambler,” Lee said. “I finally got burned out being around all those people who had to bet on everything and who were addicted to the action of betting.”

Once away from playing pool professionally, Lee found he had an affinity for teaching and used that to his advantage. He said he has made a better living teaching than most professional pool players ever will, playing tournements or gambling.

“The students find it helpful , very much so, especially with (Scott),” said Mary Durkin, Illini Union Billiards employee. “Actually, some people go ahead and begin using his system. They utilize what he’s shown them, and it improves their game.”

Despite his success, Lee warned that playing professionally for a living was not as glamourous as it might seem.

“ It’s very difficult to make a living as a pool player. You have to do something else along with it,” Lee said. “It’s not like baseball or foot football where everybody gets good money. There are maybe half a dozen pro players in the country who are making a good living, and that’s it.”

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