Nine-year-old Parker Jakubczak from West Michigan is tearing up the felt! This young man, who started playing at the ripe old age of seven, has placed in five tournaments since June 21, 2015. That’s only 15 months of playing in tournaments! Did I mention that he was only nine years old?
I had a chance to ask his dad, Dan Jakubczak, a few questions to get to know a little bit more about Parker and how he became such a young “Phenom” – Here’s what he had to say.
How old was Parker when he began to show an interest in pool?Since he was 7. He liked to bang balls around on our table at home. However, I didn’t start teaching him the game until he was tall enough to keep his elbow up above his cue. After that he started to learn the game very quickly and had a good eye for shots.Dan, while researching your Facebook page, it appears you are an experienced player. Can you tell me how you feel your love for the game has influenced Parker and has helped develop his game to this point? I played since I was about ten years old and loved the game and played some leagues for a few years before leagues were mainstream. However, I left the sport for about 18 years. I now own a North American Poolshooters Association League ‘West Michigan NAPA LLC’ with my friend Mike Vlasman. We first started by creating an Adult/Junior team Sunday League in March, 2015. Almost every team had one junior player. Then Parker started playing APA Juniors. We also started our own Junior-only NAPA league with eight players and now have progressed to 20.How did Parker get involved with the BEF and other junior events? With West Michigan NAPA Juniors league growing, I started a Juniors Billiard Club in September, 2015 called ‘The KREWE’ giving the juniors some tournament experience. The group is backed and run by West Michigan NAPA LLC with some help from volunteers Kelly Hildebrand and Karen Busbee; however, any junior from any league is welcome to travel and compete with us. We currently don’t have a membership fee but we do require the purchase of a team jersey for $35. I originally funded most of the gas and the van rental, but now we are raising funds with cue raffles and KREWE Open Junior Tournaments. We are currently looking for more sponsors to assist with expenses and promotions.https://www.facebook.com/The-KREWE-1184205921642794/?fref=tsOur first trip was to Rothschild, WI for the Badger State Games, which was also a BEF qualifier. Our first trip had only four juniors participating, but it began our new adventure and Parker (Age 8) placed 3rd in the 14 and under division.We then traveled to Benton Harbor, MI with seven junior players for the Michigan State 9-Ball Championships, which was run by Carol LaRatta. Many of her junior players were there from her Valley Juniors League as well as some juniors all the way from Canada. Parker (Age 9) placed 3rd.Our next trip was to West Peoria, Illinois, with11 junior players for the Illinois State 9-Ball Championship. Parker (Age 9) placed 2nd.We sent nine junior players to the NAPA Nationals 2016. Parker took 1st place, winning the national title for juniors skill level 40 and under. He also took 5th in the adult 10-Ball B/C/D/E Division.In the 2016 APA Junior Nationals, Parker placed 17th.We took four junior players to the 2016 BEF Nationals. The matches were played on 9 foot Diamond tables which was challenging for many of them. Parker hopes to win this someday and make it on the team to compete in China.We are planning to go to BEF Qualifiers in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois this year as well as to The Billiards Expo and NAPA Junior Nationals.Dan, are you his instructor, or does Parker have others? Does he use YouTube to work on certain shots? I have spent a lot of time teaching Parker position play, shot selection and fundamentals. He has also spent hours watching YouTube “Pool’s Biggest Secrets Revealed I, II and III” by Tor Lowry. He also likes to spend time playing with some of his local favorites, Houston Rodriguez, Bart Goode and Mark Osman.How much does Parker practice each day/week? Not less than 20 hours a week. He plays NAPA Juniors every Sunday, 9-foot Singles league on Mondays and also with me on a team on Thursdays. He also played APA Juniors twice a month on Saturdays.What grade is Parker in and where does he go to school? 4th Grade. Kenowa Hills Public SchoolsDoes Parker have siblings? If so, are they equally interested in the sport? Parker has two sisters Sofie (Age 6) and Lexandra (Age 19). Sofie shows interest in playing and received her first cue this year.What are his other interests? Parker played soccer for about 5 years and was a really good goalie but has chosen not to play for now. Parker is a very avid reader and loves the Harry Potter books. He is an excellent student, tests at a grade level several grades above his and sits with the class two grades above his for math class.Does he have aspirations of becoming one of the greats in the future? Parker says he would love to be a professional pool player after he goes to and plays ACUI Collegiate Pool for Lindenwood University in St Charles, MO. We are planning to visit University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, on November 11 to watch Lindenwood University vs University of Michigan.
Well, there you have it! I couldn’t have said it any better. This interview came directly from the heart of a proud Dad!
Getting our youth involved is crucial for the longevity of the game of billiards. It’s refreshing to see there are great promoters such as Dan Jakubczak who are working so very hard to see that the game lives on and can be enjoyed by people of all ages for a long, long time. Congratulations to his son, Parker, who is developing a passion for the game and will be a spark that ignites interest in other young players. I commend you!
Author: Peggy Mallen
Photo provided by author
Editor: Shaylyn Troop