Kia ‘Prime Time’ Sidbury is a professional pool player in the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA). She will compete in the New York State 9-ball Championship on Saturday, Aug. 1. TBW contributor Dr. Stephanie Evans, Ph.D. chats with Sidbury about the game, her goals and what needs to happen if you plan to follow in her footsteps. Check it out below:
SE: Characterize the game in three words. What is the biggest misconception about pool?
KS: Mental, physical, strategy is how I characterize the game. On the mental aspect, I once read that the mental part of your game holds the highest percentage. You can have all the great mechanics and skills in the world, but if you are not mentally clear and focused on the task at hand, you will miss shots or make wrong decisions that could cost you in the end. For me, pool isn’t just about hustling or gambling, which I believe is the misconception of the masses. It is a sport. It has rules, referees, and etiquette like any other sport. I am not a “pool shark.” I am a sports competitor. Pool is also very educational. Although I was good in math, I didn’t quite score well in geometry, go figure. Yet, when it comes to pool, I understand angles, midpoints, and parallel lines. The diamonds on the tables are measuring markers that help with banking and kicking balls. I have never taken physics, but I feel like, when playing pool, I can defy the laws of gravity or, at least, can understand balancing forces. I’ve learned and still am learning to use proper mechanics and let the cue do the work (no body lunges or death grip to the cue). All three words come in to play.
SE: Who are role models and/or your favorite 3 players of all time? What have been the two most memorable times you played and what did you learn?
KS: I would pick Linda “Hurricane” Haywood-Shea (a former WPBA professional), Kim White-Newsome, and Karen Corr, in that order. Linda has been a mentor and friend since I joined her tour. I will never forget the day she told me to expand my knowledge of the game. Kim has been a voice and support for us up and coming female professionals. I love Karen’s overall game and successes. More importantly, I love her sportsmanship and character. All of these ladies have impacted my journey personally. The two most memorable times I have had playing pool was actually against top ranked WPBA players. I was surprised at what I could do, I defeated one of the top WPBA players at a regional tour in 2012 against Julie Kelly—I bested her 7-2. In the 2015 WPBA Masters, I didn’t win against #4 ranked player at that time (Monica Webb), but I was proud that my head was clear, and I kept up with her 9-6. Even though I lost, it was the highlight of my whole weekend. Both of these experiences confirmed that I have the ability to play against and be a top pro. To any women interested in playing pool, I say, You can do it! You can be a pro!
SE: What pool games do you play, what is your style of play, and what rituals do you have? Strengths? Weaknesses?
KS: Primarily, I play 9-ball in tournaments and 8-ball in BCA league. I also play the fairly newly developed game and tournament called American Rotation (basically a mix of straight pool and 10-ball – shoot in 1-15 order, no slop, call shots and safeties). Two other games that I really enjoy are 3-cushion billiards (which I learned at a local pool hall that held a workshop and a one session league) and 1-pocket (which involves a lot of defense, a lot of strategy because you must shoot all balls in your own pocket). Although I only have knowledge of the basis of the game, I also want to learn snooker from “The Irish Invader”, Karen Corr. I would say my strength is determination and will to keep learning. However, I would count learning too much without giving proper time for muscle memory to a new skill as my weakness.
SE: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? What advice would you offer new players? What type of cue/equipment do you use?
KS: I was told to have fun. If I can’t enjoy what I love, then it’s not worth doing. I’m always learning that aspect. I offer that same advice to new players. There will always be growing pains, but if you are passionate about the sport, allow it to enhance you personally. Try to maintain a good attitude whether learning or competing. Playing pool has taught me that I must deal with different personalities. It also taught me to be aware, not to let an opponents’ strategies or sharking (distracting words or actions – they come in all forms, blatant and subtle) get in my head. With that said, I must add what I have learned about competing against guys (open tournament or local pool hall)? You have to have a decent game for some guys to respect you as a “female” player. Sometimes decent enough means defeating them. I remember one guy who was a skill level 7 in APA; I was a 5. We played on an APA Masters league which does not recognize handicaps. When I defeated him, he glared at me, so upset. He even went as far as to say that I won’t do that again. He assumed that I could not beat him, but I did. Since that interaction and others like that, some male players are now more personable toward me.
If you are serious about shooting pool on any competitive level, I highly suggest you get a coach, connect with a professional player, and/or certified trainer. To take it a step further, I suggest you use good equipment that not only plays great, but is comfortable to you. I personally decided to invest in a custom cue (513 Custom Cue) that was built to my physical measurements. Playing pool is a “forever learning” experience. Enjoy the experience.
SE: What is the takeaway message you want to offer readers?
KS: A few years ago, I had a moment of reflection. I thought, “I can do anything.” I’ve been playing bass for over 15 years, I am tech savvy and build websites, but asked myself, at what am I an expert? I’m tired of being a Jane of all trades, master of none. I decided I’m going to start with pool. I didn’t think of my race, gender, religion as stumbling block. I just said to myself, I will become a professional pool player. I’m a minority in the sport on the professional side, but I can do it. If I had a theme song, it would be ‘Conquerors’ by David Chance and my motto is, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” This type of message is what I pass on to my children. DON’T LET ANYBODY STOP YOU FROM PURSUING SOMETHING YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT. There is no color in that, there is just success. I still uphold my standards in bars, and at first some gave me a hard time because I was different. There will be haters…that’s their hang up, not mine.
This is the second article in a two-part series on Kia Sidbury. Check out Part I here.
To support Kia ‘Prime Time’ 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.