This weekend, Kia Sidbury, known as “Prime Time,” will compete in the New York State 9-ball Championship. She is the only featured African American woman pool player in the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA semi-pro non-exempt), and she is on the rise.
Billiards is an ancient game that gained popularity among European royalty as early as the 15th century and pool was all the rave among the upper crust of 19th century Chicago and New York. But modern popular culture shaped pool into a “hustler” image from the smoky halls of the 1930s to the hot shot movies of the 1980s (Color of Money, 1986). With recent growth in the economy, the leisure sport has regained popularity, even resulting in a new cut-throat reality TV show, “The Hustlers,” based in New York City. Though she has been on the regional circuit since 2010, and began competing on the pro tour in 2013, Sidbury is no hustler. Her goal is to make her mark as a professional in the game—on her own terms.
Sidbury is from Baltimore, a mother with three daughters and a grandmother of four. Her hobbies include crochet and playing bass guitar in her church. By profession, she has worked for the federal government in Medicare. Sidbury learned from her parents, “don’t let other people’s hang ups become yours” so, even as she is rounding the corner to age 50, she has decided to go pro and go for broke.
Sidbury’s love for pool began as a teenager in her aunt & uncle’s basement. Throughout the years, she played leisurely until 2007, when she happened upon pool tables while in a shopping center and it triggered her initial love for the game. She began teaching herself technique by playing and watching DVDs. She got her name “Prime Time” from an observer who saw her serious approach to improving her game. She joined American Poolplayers Association (APA) and is now in the Billiards Congress of America (BCA) in addition to the WPBA regional circuit tour. After playing the regional circuit, she accumulated points to get her ranking, and competed in regional tour championships, and in a twist of fate a spot at a WPBA sanctioned event. Her goal is to improve her AZbilliards rakings and, more importantly, climb the rankings on the WPGA tour into the top 32.
Sidbury has invested much in her game: she acquired a coach, her cues are made by Bernard Dews (one of the few Black cue makers in the country), and she has even gained sponsorship for her tournament play (Triple Nines Bar and Billiards, Coins of the Realm, Blackheart Premium Billiard Tips). During her first years on the circuit, she met several top ranked players, including Jeanette ‘The Black Widow’ Lee, Kelly ‘KwikFire’ Fisher, and Jennifer Barretta.
Sidbury has played against Karen Corr, Jennifer Chen, Julie Kelly, and Monica Webb. Sidbury credits women like Kim White-Newsome (current president of WPBA) and Linda Heywood-Shea (a regional tour director) with creating an atmosphere where women can rise in the sport, especially since women players enjoy higher sponsorships and viewership than men. Hall of Famer, Jeanette Lee, is currently on a national tour with Bass Pro Shops, enjoys sponsorship by Predator (which carries her line of “Poison” cues), and Lee is the face of the APA.
Like Lee, Sidbury wants to encourage more women to join leagues and professional associations…
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, we stated that Ms. Sidbury was the only black female member of the WPBA. D’Andrea McQuirter, who is African American, is also a member of the WPBA. We regret the error.
This article is the first of a two-part series on Kia Sidbury, the only featured African American woman pool player in the Women’s Professional Billiards Association. Part two features an exclusive interview with Sidbury. Read here.
To support Kia Sidbury, visit http://www.kiasidbury.com/
Follow Prime Time on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kiasidbury
This post was written by Stephanie Y. Evans, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of African American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies, and History at Clark Atlanta University. Follow her on Twitter @Prof_Evans.