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pool players lend a hand to the SCIT afterschool program

Carrie Garcia, Staff Writer

Imagine having a chance to play with some of the top professional billiard players in the world and being able to brag about it. With the combine help of Ronnie Ekdahl, Parks and Recreations Director, and the generosity of Raul Venegas, Marketing Director of the Soaring Eagle Casino these two were able to make this trip a reality for 20 students in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s (SCIT) afterschool program.

These students were able to take their first field trip to the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort to where in the entertainment hall Ewa Mataya Laurance, Jeanette Lee, Allison Fisher, Laura Smith, Vicki Paski and Dawn Hopkins awaited the student’s arrival. These students couldn’t wait to be placed at a pool table, pick up a pool cue and sink the billiard balls into the pockets.

 “This was a neat opportunity,” Ekdahl said. We have two pool tables in the lounge and interest in it has been down. The field trip was a good activity to get youth interested in playing pool and interested in using what we have. Some of the youth did not know how to play pool but after last night we could really see them improving in the short time they have been there. It was exciting for these kids to be playing with some of the top players in the world. They did a great job with the youth.”

Vicki Paski, also known as “Diamond Vic” in the WPBA circuit and a Michigan native, enjoys being involved in the community especially teaching the youth about pool.

“In my hometown of Grand Ledge, I got winded at the fact that a bunch of community members are trying to start an afterschool program and I thought that it was nice and the number one thing that the kids wanted in that community was a pool table,” Paski said. “When Paski was asked to be apart of the SCIT afterschool program she was ecstatic.
“I said absolutely, this is a chance to meet the new kids,” Paski said. “This is always fun for me to watch them learn because when they first start they are all different. Watching them try to work through it and give them a couple of different hints and they apply that new knowledge, it is fun to watch.”

Laura Smith, WPBA player, and the Executive Director of The Billiards Education Foundation (BEF) is hoping to get more students involved with wanting to play pool. 

“We are trying to get more kids involved and it is a great sport and there are so many life lessons that kids can learn,” said Smith.

She also enjoyed being able to interact with the SCIT afterschool students.
“This is great to have SCIT Parks and Recreations here and being able to work with the kids,” said Smith. 

A charity tournament also took place at 7 p.m. in the entertainment hall. For those who wanted to play with a WPBA they could pay a $100 fee. Many came out to show their support and a total of $2020 was raised and all of the proceeds went to The Angel Tree Program. The program helps unprivileged Tribes in South Dakota.