Steamboat Springs Local pool player Colleen Perkins was joking with fellow player Nina White as the pair headed to Las Vegas last month to compete in the national 2000 Camel Eight-Ball Classic.
"We were just kidding about one of us winning I don't think we thought we had a real chance," Perkins said.
Perkins had played at the national level several times as part of a team. But this time, she was getting her chance to shine on her own and she made the most of it.
Pool is a huge sport in Steamboat Springs. Local pool league organizer John Lamb has received several awards at the national level for having the highest per capita number of players in local leagues.
As a result, Steamboat had three players travel to the Rivera Hotel and Casino Resort in Las Vegas last month to compete in the Camel Eight-Ball Classic.
Perkins was the top local finisher, earning fifth-place in the women's division. White and another player, Jon Tyler, also played at the Rivera, but did not place.
"It takes a lot just to get to go," Perkins said of qualifying. "It didn't matter how well we did, It was just a privilege to go out there."
She was one of 281 amateur pool players to qualify for the championship,which is one of the nation's most rewarding singles tournaments offering guaranteed cash and prizes totaling $200,000. More than 31,000 North American players attempted to qualify. Perkins was awarded free travel and lodging for the event, compliments of the American Poolplayers Association. For finishing in fifth place, she earned $1,700 in cash and prizes.
She opened play on Thursday with a loss, but battled her way back through the consolation brackets in the modified single-elimination format.
"Every player is guaranteed at least two matches, but once you advance past the third round, it's a single-elimination tournament," Perkins explained.
Steamboat has several well-established leagues that play at the Golden Cue and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Steamboat.
Perkins, who has been playing for the past eight years, competes in two eight-ball leagues and one nine-ball league. Except for a couple of weeks at the end of each session, the leagues run year round.
Her nine-ball team just qualified to play in the nationals in Las Vegas for the fourth time.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org