Women in pool
It's Tuesday night, and Nicolette Ducey is where she likes to be. She goes for the black ball, standing on tiptoe, leaning forward, leveling her eyes on the ball. She shoots. And misses.
Her turn comes around again. Ducey scrunches her forehead in concentration. Again she steadies her aim. There is no perception of movement, save for the twinkle of her diamond earrings. She shoots. And makes it.
The victor, she smiles and shakes hands with the man she's played against.
He's a good sport.
But every once in a while, when the women play pool against the men, things don't go as well.
Especially when the women win.
Just the week before, Keleigh Scheuermann played against a man, one who clearly wasn't happy about losing to her.
"I had six balls on the table, he only had one," Keleigh said. "I just kept hiding the cue ball so that he couldn't get to his one ball."
She repeated that scenario three times, and finally made her shots, clearing the table.
"As I walked over to him to shake hands, he takes his pool stick and breaks it across his knee," Keleigh said.
He threw his stick in the trash. Later he approached Keleigh.
"He walked over and says, 'I shouldn't have done that,'" Keleigh said. "He shook my hand and walked off."
Nicolette, Keleigh, along with Lin Davis and Terry Mitchener, make up a prize-wining women's pool team. They named their group "4 Squaws," because of the Native American heritage of two of the members. Terry is 1/4 Chippewa and Keleigh is 1/32 Seneca.
The women play every Tuesday and Wednesday night at Side Pockets in Bonner Springs. And their various competitions take them to cities in Kansas, as well as to an annual tournament in Las Vegas.
They play in leagues two or three times a week, and, particularly before tournaments, practice at home, as well.
The group's name can change from year to year. For instance, last year it was "Ball Bust Hers." But whatever the name, the women agree, they enjoy what they're doing. And they admit that, occasionally, men don't appreciate what they're doing.
After finishing a game of pool with the guys last Tuesday, Joe Anderson, who lives in Mission, said he occasionally plays pool against women, including the 4 Squaws.
"It's not that I don't like playing pool with women," Anderson said. "It's that there are few and far enough women in between to be competitive. I don't mind playing competitive women."
Chris Putthoff, a 28-year-old Tonganoxie man who plays pool, said he's impressed with this four-woman team.
At the Kansas City area tournaments, generally, about six women compete, Putthoff said. Those are the ones he doesn't mind playing against.
That's different from casual players who frequent the pool halls -- the ones who are more of an interruption to the serious pool players.
"Some of these women that are just drinking and having fun get annoying -- and that goes for men, too," Putthoff said.
Worth the drive
Of the fourteam members, Lin Davis drives the farthest.
She works for Sprint Nextel out of her home in Oak Grove, Mo., and makes the 48-mile drive to Side Pockets at least two nights a week. But she doesn't mind the drive.
Lin, who is 52, started playing pool nine years ago.
"I never played at all before that," she said. "I wanted to get out of the house."
She joined the women's pool team, which competes through the Valley National 8-Ball League Association. VNEA's members include men, women and junior players. Each year an international tournament is held in Las Vegas.
"VNEA is designed for new people to come in," Lin said, noting the organization gives handicaps to new players.
"I did pretty well," Lin said of her nine years playing pool. "But I've got a lot to learn. I'm still learning."
That's what she likes about playing at Side Pockets -- other players, men and women, are willing to help.
"If I'm struggling with a specific type of shot you can ask someone and they'll take you over to another table and work with you," Lin said.
Along with the team's new name is the need to print new T-shirts -- this time with the "4 Squaws" logo. There's a slight drawback to changing names.
"And here I've got all these 'Ball Bust Hers' T-shirts at home," Lin said with a chuckle.
For 35-year-old Nicolette Ducey, pool is a part of her marriage, as well as her social life. She met her husband of two years, Scott Ducey, playing pool. The couple live in Bonner Springs, within walking distance of Side Pockets.
Nicolette grew up in Germany and works as a technician in a dental laboratory. Until she moved to the United States nine years ago she'd never heard of pool. Now she's been playing for eight years. Later, when she moved from North Carolina to Olathe, Nicolette joined the women's team.
"The pool team gave me a way to meet people," Nicolette said.
Scott Ducey, who grew up in Basehor, plays pool alongside his wife. For him, pool with "the girls" bears little difference from pool with his buddies.
"The girls are like playing with the fellows. They give it back like we do. They come to win. We come to win," Scott