The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The Davis Center pool tables: an ultimate student pastime

Jackson Palumbo
Billy Watkins plays a game of pool with friends in the Davis Center Oct. 19.

If you’ve walked through the first floor of the Davis Center, you may have noticed that its four pool tables are usually buzzing with people. 

As one of the many pulls of the Davis Center, these pool tables are a beloved attraction that appeals to many UVM students.

Junior Billy Watkins is relatively new to the game. Lately, however, he’s become a regular at the tables.  

“Just this year I started,” Watkins said. “I hadn’t played before. It’s gotten to be about three or four times a week, I’d say, and I’ll come for about an hour each. I mostly come in between classes.”

For some, pool is an ideal brain break to get through a long day of classes. A combination of the physical aspect and the mental challenge of the game is what makes it so enticing, said Watkins.  

“It’s nice having a break between the work and the classes, and, I mean, sure, you could go to Brennan’s to sit down and have a chat, but I’m very activity-oriented,” Watkins said. “It feels good to get your body moving, even if it’s in minimal ways, and I feel like it’s a good puzzle each time you play.”

Playing pool is a nice way to break up a long day of classes, but it also serves as a social activity. The people studying quietly in the comfy chairs that fill out the room shouldn’t be a deterrent from chatting or being boisterous while you play, Watkins said. 

“Sometimes I’ll feel like it’s an area where I can’t really be loud,” Watkins said. “But I’m usually here with friends, talking and stuff like that, and it’s never too serious.” 

It is such a social activity, in fact, that for just about every solo player, there were two or three tables of players in pairs or groups.   

Grad student Ijaz Khan, president of the Graduate Student Senate and lifelong pool player, says that meeting new people is sometimes exactly what draws him there. 

“If I ever want to do something to feel refreshed, my first priority will be to play pool,” Khan said. “I just like to talk to strangers sometimes.” 

If you check out a rack, you may meet junior Emily Hopper, who has worked at the Davis Center for just over a year now, and often sees the crowds of players.

“I feel like it’s usually people who just enjoy hanging out,” she said.

There’s no better way to have a first or a 91st conversation than over a game of pool; every session is a chance to make a connection with your opponent, whether they’re stranger, a good friend or anywhere in between, Hopper said.

“I feel like it’s a good game to play with friends and it’s a good way to meet new people,” said Hopper.

Hopper finds that a certain demographic frequents the tables most often, and it has deterred her participation, she said. 

“It’s mainly a male-dominated activity,” she said. “[Pool] being a male-dominated game makes it a little more intimidating for me to want to play.”

Even if there is a stronger male presence, this activity is open to all. Hopper especially appreciates the people coming by who are less demographically represented in the pool arena or who are boldly trying their hand at a new activity. 

“When I see female-presenting people playing, I think, ‘that’s amazing, I love to see that.’ It’s so awesome when I see lots of different people coming to play and trying out a new thing,” said Hopper. 

With a variety of people playing comes a variety of skill levels and competitiveness, and this dynamic is unique to each game.

If you are playing with someone new, it can be helpful to define some rules about what constitutes a scratch and how to handle it before beginning. You may also have a more casual mindset like Khan.

“Sometimes I won’t play to win the game, just to have the time pass because I love the game,” said Khan.

Playing pool can be a wonderful social activity, but it is just as valuable as an individual experience, Watkins said. If you decide to practice your skills alone, this could create an opportunity to be more in touch with your mind. 

“I’ll play by myself without music. I enjoy the atmosphere here: it’s quiet and nice to be with my thoughts,” said Watkins.

It could be tough to secure a table in the Davis Center right away during the busy weekdays, but when you manage to do so, it will be worth your while.



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