When the caretaker cancelled her appointment at the last moment, retired Toronto District School Board (TDSB) teacher Sheila Williams was forced to take her two young daughters to a pool hall where she was taking part in a four-woman billiards tournament.
With one of the players failing to show up, Naomi Williams put her hand up to join the quartet.
That was her introduction to the sport that she has mastered and won 13 national titles in eight, nine and 10-ball disciplines.
“I played volleyball and basketball and did swimming and diving, but billiards was the one sport that I loved,” she said. “The sport is very physical in that you can be on your feet for long periods if you are winning and mental in the sense that you have to concentrate when you are shooting through the ball.”
Williams joined the Toronto Police Service (TPS) at the beginning of October. She’s is an Administrative Clerk in Talent Acquisition.
“This is my first office job and I am really enjoying it,” said Williams whose older sister, Morningstar Williams, is in the TPS Access & Privacy Unit. “I went back to school because I wanted to uplift myself and I am really happy with where I am at right now.”
She studied Public Relations.
In preparation for the tournament in China, Williams spends nearly five hours practicing daily after leaving work.
Williams won the national nine-ball title this year.
Nine Ball is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and a cue ball. On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest-numbered ball on the table, but the balls don’t have to be pocketed in order. If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, that individual remains at the table for another shot and continues until they kiss, foul or win the game by pocketing the nine-ball.
After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player, but after any foul the incoming player may place the cue ball anywhere on the table. Players aren’t required to call any shot.
Williams, whose mother is Cree, is one of two players who will be representing Canada in the Women’s World Championships in Hainan, China, starting on December 12.
“The best players in the world, including the Chinese who are very good, are going to be at this tournament and I love competing against the best,” she said. “This is the third time I am going to China to play in a tournament.”
There was a time when Williams took part in the Women’s Professional Billiards League.
“Back then, there were about 13 tournaments and it was financially viable for me,” she said. “Now there are about three competitions. I am paying my way to go to China and that’s because of the joy and thrill I get out of playing the sport.”