Heather Kurtz got her introduction to pool in Levittown NY when she was a teenager.
While hanging around a local pool hall with her friends she fell in love with the game, and soon got a part time job there. She spent hours watching the regulars play, and got tips from the old-timers.
She has played in the presence of many pros, but one whom she would love to meet is world champion Allison Fisher. Fisher is someone Heather greatly admires, and she would love to have the opportunity to pick her brain. Another player she admires is John Schmidt—Heather has actually met him many times but hasn’t gotten to play a game with him yet.
Some of Heather’s fondest memories of pool are from her years working the Straight Pool Challenge at the Super Billiards Expo in PA and NJ. Having the opportunity to watch different players shoot 19 hours a day while trying to qualify for the championship competition at the end of the expo was incredibly inspiring and amazing.
Heather’s favorite hall to play at is Raxx Pool Room, in West Hempstead NY. One of Heather’s proudest moments in the game was her first year in the Raxx straight pool league, when she placed first out of 16 guys.
At her peak she was playing, ideally, every day or every other day for at least three hours at a time.
“Some people say playing pool is like riding a bike, but I don’t agree with that at all; personally, if I take time away from the table it’s not so easy to get back into the swing of it.”
Like many players with a true love and respect for the game, Heather thinks the main thing pool needs is exposure.
“It’s a beautiful game, you would think it would have a better rep’! I don’t care what anyone says, pool players are athletes. I’d love for it to be as big as other sports. I wish there were more streamers that offered free streaming online, so that more people could watch and appreciate pool. Right now I feel there is too much pay-per-view, and people who are new to the game may not be willing to pay to watch a lot of these tournaments and amazing players. As a huge supporter and promoter of our sport, I really feel that streams are important to bring in more fans!”
As she got more into the game, Heather realized she had many more questions than could be answered on your average night at the pool hall. This is one of the reasons she started Pool Passion, a Facebook group for pool players of all skill levels.
Her goal for the group is to create a safe haven for players—from total novice to world champion—to ask questions, give advice, market products or lessons, and just have an open dialogue about the sport in general.
Heather has personally benefitted from the group; she was having issues with lifting her bridge arm, she put it to the group, and got many helpful responses and videos that helped her improve. She hopes many others will have similar positive experiences.
She’s made friends (as in real-life, actually-met-in-person friends) through the group, and knows of several members who have met up at tournaments. This kind of community-building is exactly what she was hoping for when she started Pool Passion.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Heather if she had anything she would like to add, and this is what she said:
“I’d love to see more females in the game! It really is a male-dominated sport. I’ve had so many experiences where men won’t give me the time of day, or think they can beat me just because I’m a girl. It’s as much a mental game as a physical one, so men have no advantage other than the fact that most people associate the game with men. Lots of girls who like the game don’t take it seriously–they just go to a bar once in a while and bang around balls–and I don’t think they realize how much farther they could go.”
Photo: Heather Kurtz Editor: Dana Gornall