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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
While the Walpole COA has an absurd number of activities for seniors, ranging from Zumba and tap dancing to mahjongg and dominos, perhaps the most popular activity is playing pool on one of two tables on the top floor of the Walpole Co-Operative Bank South Street Center. In fact, pool (the leagues play eight ball only) has become so popular that on top of those who drop in to play what are essentially pickup games, there are now two in-house leagues, a travel league, and for those who may not have grown up playing the game, an instructional class.
Ed Winslow, the volunteer in charge of the leagues, explained the different ways seniors could get involved, ranging from programs for those who’ve never played pool before to people looking to face the best Massachusetts has to offer.
“The travel team goes to Natick, Needham, Norwood, Wellesley, Bellingham, Hopkinton, Canton and here. We only need four, five, six players, but we have twelve on the traveling team. Then it was so popular, I was able to establish, last year, six in-house teams. Two teams were all women, four were mixed. We have two in-house leagues: one will play between 10 a.m. and noon, and one will play 1-3 in the afternoon, all on Thursdays. Then we have pool instruction with John Augusta, which is on Monday morning from 10 to noon. And he’s usually here to help anyone out during the week. I have about 74 people interested in playing pool. It’s been a huge success.”
Unfortunately for Winslow and the rest of the Walpole seniors, while the participation has been a huge success, from a wins and losses perspective, the travel team wasn’t. Last year, being so new, Winslow explained the team wasn’t great, but that with a year more training, it is looking to do far better this spring season.
“When we started out in the spring, it was terrible because we were the new people on the block. In the fall, we did a little bit better. But as soon as it starts in March, we’ll be a much, much better team, because we have some really talented players that have had a year to practice and learn, and they’ve come a long way.”
As for the in-house leagues, while it’s all for fun, there are most definitely winners and losers. The morning league and afternoon leagues have been deemed the “American” and “National” leagues, and the highest scorers from each league will face off against each other to determine who is the ultimate winner. There’s even a plaque in the billiards room that shows off the winner of each league. So far, with only one year in the books, the plaque displays only two winners, but that will clearly change soon enough.
Whether you can play pool and want a challenge, or can’t play but think it would be fun to learn, the Walpole Senior Center has something for you. Just know there are some very talented players, so you might get a tougher game than you expected.