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Senior pool sharks take shots

Nick Graziano/contributing photographer

Bill Pauldine of Cortland sets up his using a pool bridge cue to help guide his pool stick for the perfect shot during a senior center pool tournament in the Cortland County office building Thursday morning.

Breakfast, a pool competition and most of all group camaraderie. Members of the Cortland and Willet senior centers have been battling each other at the pool table for well over a decade.

The game of pool has been ongoing with the two groups for about 15 to 20 years now, said Dick Menapace, a member of the Cortland team, Thursday in between taking shots at the County Office Building senior center.

Each center has a team of around six to eight members who compete in a best-of-seven-games tournament on the first Friday of each month and the third Thursday of each month, Menapace said.

July and August are the only months the games don’t run, Menapace said, and each combat waged is two against two.

During Thursday morning’s tournament 10 members gathered to compete for a trophy. But that’s not all.

“Everybody has a good time,” said William Killebrew, a member of the Willet team.

Killebrew, along with teammate Ray Sergent, were not only playing to defend their team’s control of the trophy, but also enjoying a game with friends on their shared birthday Thursday. Killebrew turned 71, while Sergent turned 79.

Charles Carter, a member of the Cortland team, is new to the tournament, having joined just about six weeks ago. “I joined because my buddy plays,” Carter said. “It (the game) is something to do.”

Carter’s “buddy,” Jerry Livengood, has been on the Cortland team for around five years, Livengood said. Yet, when it comes to the game, Livengood has been playing for as long as he can remember, he said.

Both Carter and Livengood agreed that the tournaments are a good way to socialize.

The winning team takes the trophy home to its local senior center until the next match. Willet entered Thursday’s tournament with control of the trophy and maintained hold of it with a win of four games to three, Menapace said.

Even though the Cortland team lost, the members still had a lot of fun, Menapace said. And at the end of the day, it’s about the camaraderie, he said.

The tournament is not just about pool but the friendship, agreed Bill Pauldine, a Cortland team member.

“It’s enjoyable to play with the guys from Willet,” Pauldine said. “They’re a bunch of nice guys and we have a bunch of laughs.”

The next game scheduled will be in January in Willet.

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