The Sam Houston State University Billiards Team celebrates their twentieth anniversary this year. Established November 1987 by present coach Gary Roark, the team has had many years of accomplishments and continued success.
Roark was hired at Sam Houston State University as the recreation manager in 1979, but later applied his interest in playing pool toward organizing a team on campus.
“We first played Texas A&M University back in 1987 and won,” said Roark. “I was friends with the coach of the Billiards Team of Texas A&M, so our tournament was more of a bet, and our victory included a trophy and a free dinner.”
Billiard Teams have since then been established in several other universities including the University of Houston, the University of Texas, and Texas Tech. The Sam Houston State Billiards Team is part of region 12, which includes teams in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mexico. During the 1980s and 90s, they were ranked top in the nation, but have continued to maintain top in their region for many years.
Roark suggests that the team has done so well, because of the exceptional players he has seen over the years. “It’s not about how big Sam Houston is, it’s about how much heart the student has, and how much they put in it,” said Roark. “When the chips are down, they come forth.”
Members of the team also contribute their success to a great coach. President of the Billiards Team, Eric Garcia, says it is great to have a coach that is so supportive.
“Coach Roark is good teacher, a great coach, and keeps us focused on our goals,” said Garcia. “He has seen the team receive more than 30 trophies, over 15 plaques, and witnessed the team at number one in the nation.”
The game of pool has become very popular over the years. Universities once had a men and women’s division, but since the number of players continued to increase, A, B, and C divisions were created according to skill and tournaments won. The team participates in two tournaments a month, which prepares them for regional competition every February.
Their practice several times a week in Lowman Student Center Kat Klub is key for continued victory. The team hopes their commitment will pay off in this February’s competition.
Clerk for the Kat Klub, Robin Dosie, oversees their practice often.
“They are hard workers and fast learners. Watching them practice, you can tell they know their craft,” said Dosie.
Roark says that practice they put in is necessary. “I would hate to see them not do well at a tournament, and regret they didn’t play one or two more games before hand,” said Roark.
With plans to retire in four to five years, Roark hopes the rest of years with Sam Houston will be just as enjoyable.
“I’ve seen six marriages come out of the team. The relationships and friendships you create within the team come from a true bond. Pool is a common bond with students that come in here, regardless of who you are or what your background is,” said Roark.