Billiards is a Sport for All: Just Ask the Ladies at West Oak Lane Senior Center
Carolyn (Kandy) Seasor, 63, was waiting for a bus at the corner of Ogontz Avenue and 72nd Street when she saw a few people walk by, carrying pool cues. She has been shooting pool for more than 40 years, so she stopped one of them and asked if there was a pool hall in the area. What she found was even better.
She was right in front of the West Oak Lane Senior Center, home to one of the city’s top billiards teams; and the person she asked was Bill Henderson, captain of the center’s billiards club. He recruited her on the spot for the center’s fledgling ladies’ team. Billiards is one of the center’s most popular activities, according to center director Sharlene Waller. The men’s team has been going strong for at least 25 years; a ladies’ team formed in 2013.
Women take their cue
Jo-Ann Moore, 64, is captain of the West Oak Lane Ladies’ Billiards Team. “I’d played socially before, but never part of an organized team,” she says. “This is really special. We are a family. Anyone who says billiards is not for women doesn’t know what they’re saying. It’s a sport of agility and strategy. Playing is a way to keep your mind active and focused.”
Malinda Harrison, 64, agrees. “Pool is not a gender game, it’s a mind game. If you have the ability and the willingness to learn, you’ll succeed at it.”
There are now 13 members of the ladies’ team, and the center has dedicated one of its three pool tables to them. Team members say their toughest competitor is 72-year-old Mary Morris, who’s been playing pool for 60 years – as long as some of her teammates have been alive. Morris joined the center in 1999, after retiring from her job at Cigna. “I’ve been shooting against men for years, long before I was part of a team,” she says.
“I came here for a little ‘me’ time,” says Lynn Thompson, who is an author, entrepreneur, wife and mother. The oldest of nine children, Thompson has three brothers and a 42-year-old son who also play pool. “I’ve been competitive with them for many years. They love that I’m on this team,” she says.
While many of the members have years of pool-playing experience, others developed an affinity for the sport at the center. Linda Calhoun-Herring, 65, met her husband, Tony Herring, when she first came to the center in 2012. “Tony is a member of the men’s team. I soon became interested in billiards for myself,” says Calhoun-Herring, who is a member of the center’s advisory board. The couple has bonded over their many shared interests and was married at West Oak Lane Senior Center in April, 2013.
Paulette Robinson, 62, had no prior experience with pool when she joined the center last year to keep her busy during the months she wasn’t working doing income taxes. “I’m not too good at it, but I try my best. I just like to be active,” she says.
(Note to readers: Although the terms “billiards” and “pool” are used interchangeably here, the two sports are actually not identical, but cousins of a sort, along with the related game of “snooker.”)
Where to play
These sites offer billiards on a daily basis and are open to both men and women. Most of the centers do not charge a fee to play, but registration is required to participate in activities on an ongoing basis. For information about center membership, costs, billiards teams and related activities, and the city-wide billiards tournament, call the center directly. Listings are by geographic area.
King Older Adult Center*, 2101 Cecil B. Moore Ave., 215-685-2716. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Lutheran Settlement House Senior Center, 1542 Montgomery Ave., 215-428-4206. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Note: Temporary location and phone number)
Mann Older Adult Center, 3201 N. 5th St., 215-685-9844. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
North Broad Street Senior Center, 1438 N. Broad St., 215-978-1300. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Ladies billiards: Tuesday, 12 to 1 p.m.
Norris Square Senior Citizen Center, 2121-37 N. Howard St, 215-423-7241. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
St. Anne’s Senior Citizen Center, 2607 E. Cumberland St., 215-423-2772. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Center at Journey’s Way, 403 Rector St., 215-487-1750. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Juniata Park Older Adult Center, 1251 East Sedgley Ave., 215-685-1490. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
KleinLife: Northeast Philadelphia, 10100 Jamison Ave., 215-698-7300. Open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Northeast Older Adult Center*, 8100 Bustleton Ave., 215-685-0576. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Peter Bressi Northeast Senior Center*, 4744-46 Frankford Ave., 215-831-2926. Open weekdays: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Ave., 215-848-7722. Open weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
West Oak Lane Senior Center*, 7210-18 Ogontz Ave., 215-685-3511. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Marconi Older Adult Center, 2433 S. 15th St., 215-218-0800. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, 1430 East Passyunk Ave., 215-685-1697. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
St. Charles Senior Community Center*, 1941 Christian St., 215-790-9530. Open weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Southwest Senior Center*, 6916 Elmwood Ave., 215-937-1880. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunshine Older Adult Sunshine Center*, 137 S. 58th Street, 215-472-6188. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, 1016-26 N. 41st St., 215-386-0379. Open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
*Indicates participant in 2015 city-wide billiards tournament.
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