- Associated Press - Friday, July 28, 2017

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Everett Wubben likes to run track and cross country, study up for a scholastic bowl and go camping with his fellow Boy Scouts. It’s enough to keep any 12-year-old boy busy.

But on Sunday afternoons, he heads to Racks on the Rocks pool hall and plays pool for two hours.

“I wanted to play because my mom plays pool and my dad plays pool,” Everett said. “I just want to follow my mom and dad.”

Everett is part of the River City Kids Junior Pool League, a children’s billiards league that was started just over a year ago by pool players Tawni Lewis and Jeff Chase.

Lewis said her desire to start the league stemmed from wanting to teach her children to play the game she grew up loving.

“I wanted something I could do with the kids,” she said. “(Pool) does teach them about focus and problem solving, sportsmanship.”

Lewis said River City Kids Junior Pool League has been a particularly worthwhile activity for her 11-year-old son, Shane.

“My youngest son has ADHD, and it’s something he really enjoys and is able to focus on,” Lewis said. “He’s really been up and down with the sportsmanship and the losing, but we’re getting better at that. It teaches him how to lose.”

For Shane, playing pool has many rewards.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I like improving.”

The league is hosted by Racks on the Rocks. Co-owner Heather Williams said she’s become accustomed to seeing kids running around the pool tables every weekend, cues in hand.

“It’s good, because you see it’s not just an older generation game anymore,” Williams said. “The pool players can bring their kids in just to let them know what it is. It teaches a lot of control … It teaches them math and geometry, too, with the angles.”

Kids pay $5 per session to play with the league, but Chase said they’re working on fundraising so they don’t have to turn anybody away.

“(We’re) trying to find sponsors for individual kids whose families can’t afford to play,” he said. “We’re also hoping to raise a little money to have some short pool cues. It has a major impact on teaching kids to play pool with something they can actually hold.”

After taking seventh place in the Illinois American CueSports state tournament, Everett said he’ll be practicing all summer for a fundraising tournament the league is planning for September.

“My main goal is, I’m trying to get to nationals,” he said.

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Source: (Peoria) Journal Star, https://bit.ly/2uePyfL

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Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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