Rack 'em Up
The PVA/NWPA Billiards Tournament Series provides a unique blend of skill levels, competition, fun and camaraderie.
It takes focus, control and careful planning to become a skilled pool player, but anyone who picks up a cue stick can enjoy the social benefits of billiards. Billiards has been part of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) sports program for decades, but in 2006, PVA partnered with the National Wheelchair Poolplayers Association, Inc. (NWPA), the national governing body for wheelchair billiards, to launch a national tournament series for people with disabilities. Now in its 12th season, the PVA/NWPA Billiards Tournament Series draws players from novice to expert, providing competition and promoting the sport across the country.
“Just along the lines of [wheelchair] basketball, it’s something easy to do. We can get in and out of any pool hall for the most part,” says Alan Earl, PVA’s associate director of Sports and Recreation. “Some VA’s [Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals] have pool tables in their VA [recreation] centers where they can just go to directly and play. So pool’s always been an interest of our members.”
Cultivating that interest for players of all abilities, promoting the sport and providing opportunities to play outside of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games was the impetus behind the creation of the series. Prior to that, PVA had sponsored individual tournaments and national championships, but it wasn’t a formal tour. In 2006, the NWPA received $15,000 from PVA to put together the joint PVA/NWPA series, and the first sanctioned event was in Memphis, Tenn., in October 2007 with 38 players attending. There are a handful of wheelchair billiards divisions that compete nationally and internationally, but wheelchair pool players often get lumped in with able-bodied players, making the PVA/NWPA series one of a kind. Rather than being classified by disability, players on the tour are classified by skill level. The events are open to anyone with a mobility impairment who uses a wheelchair.
Rack 'em Up
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