Youth program producing future stars
A group of talented, young pool players at Main Street Billiards in Zephyrhills are “Shooting of the Future.”
The Fifth Avenue Poll Hall proves over and over that it is more than just a place to shoot a rack of pool or throw some darts. The younger generation is taking on the lessons of the experienced players and turning it into local and national success.
Sophia Mast has been shooting farther as Main Street Billiard’s Shooting Star capturing the 13-under OTW Junior International Championship recently in Roanoke, VA. She also competed in the 18 and under group and finished sixth.
The 12-year-old of Land O’ Lakes has been chalking up her cue for two years and is becoming one of the best young players in the country.
“I had so much fun up there and winning was amazing,” Mast said. “I was nervous. I stayed in my focus.”
The Shooting for the Future program at Main Street Billiards is bringing a lot of children to the sport and program supporters want to keep it going.
“Our main goal is to make sure none of these kids go without when it comes to playing in the sport of billiards,” said Shooting for Future” spokesman Johnny Shelton. “We’re supporting them 100 percent when it comes to paying for tournaments or equipment. We raise funds all the time for these kids.”
Free lessons are offered Tuesdays at Main Street Billiards for children wishing to learn to shoot pool. Main Street Billiards joins five other venues that offers lessons to young players through the Shooting for the Future program.
“Each venue gets to sponsor a shooting star,” said Brandon Butts of Main Street Billiards. “Sophia’s goal was to become a junior national champion. Not everybody has that goal. Whatever ambition a child has will make them a shooting star.”
David Castro, a 16-year-old of Zephyrhills, has been honing his skills for the last 18 months at Main Street Billiards as part of the youth program.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone around here to be able join the sport and check it out,” Castro said. “I was one who thought the sport was lame, but now I have a lot of fun and I learned a lot. You see little kids coming in here and playing for the first time. It’s great. It’s definitely a sport that deserves a lot more attention.”