(WWLP) – In the once known mostly male-dominated pool sports industry, the New England American Poolplayers Association (APA) has been welcoming women to a ladies league and joining men on other teams. Two local women and sister league owners have been contributing to the recruitment of women to the APA.

There are five players per pool team during the ladies league, and three of the players must be able to shoot that night. The skill level of the three players must not exceed 13. When women compete in the ladies league, they will have a chance to attend the Las Vegas APA Ladies 8-Ball Championship in conjunction with the APA World Pool Championships. However, women that join teams, singles, or doubles tournaments will have a choice of 8-Ball or 9-Ball leagues and compete in other games at the APA World Pool Championships.

The owner of the New England American Poolplayers Association, Kelly Hall reflects on her experiences as a woman league owner, “it’s very gratifying, I love the relationships I’m seeing that have been created with the league. When I purchased the league in 2015 it seemed to be more about competition and I wanted to change the culture of our league and make it more about community-oriented and it’s not just me but the people that are in it.”

APA league owner, Kelly Hall

Upon moving to western Massachusetts in 2009, Hall was warped into playing pool, but she did not want to do it, as she had never played before. “I didn’t want to play in front of people, and I was horrible at first.”

After playing in the league, she saw what people were upset about and what matters to them. When she started managing, she wanted to shift the competitive culture and make it more community orientated. “I wanted to make a difference with the league,” said Kelly Hall.

Kelly Hall used the skills she received as a former president of Babe Ruth baseball for five years to make the APA become a greater scale.

“I think I turned over a lot of men and women to see that I know my stuff and I know what’s going on and you don’t have to be a man to be successful in this business. I think a lot of people have seen that a female can run a more male-driven business. I feel our female numbers are going up,” Kelly Hall said, “I see more women not just playing though, I see more people getting better and feeling like I’m going to go all the way up the ladder.”

APA competitor since 1998, Stacie Bourbeau from Orange has always enjoyed the “defying expectations” aspect of playing the game. “When I first began playing in the 90s, it was very rare for your average local male pool player to see a female that was better than they were at the game. I very much took pride in the surprised looks on their faces when I picked up my cue and showed them how to run a table,” Bourbeau said, “nowadays though, there are many more women involved in the game, many of which can compete with the boys.  Women who join the league will meet and enjoy the camaraderie of the other female league players, many of which become friends for life.”

In Kelly Hall’s view, she opened the eyes of some women and men that gender doesn’t matter. While there was pushback at first, she said in her position as an owner it is different to work for oneself and certainly in the role as an owner. “I think I’m able to relate to new players that are female and potential people that think about people playing that are nervous in doing so,” she said.

Carol Maloney from Holyoke, a pool player that joined in 2015, that has begun to play every week for four months mentioned how equal the teams are. “We all are pretty equally, all give pointers, timeout, be helpful to one another. And they see that we can not only play a little but we own the whole leagues,” Maloney said, “I seen a lot of women that are not afraid, scared, or intimidated as much as they were before.”

An APA team captain and player since 2014, Tim Regan said, “the best players are females… most of them are my friends. Being a man or woman doesn’t make you less of a player.”

Kelly Hall was inspired by the people at the top of the national office. “There were some strong women there and I know that inspired me and my sister,” she said.

“Shoot for the stars, go for your dreams.”

Worcester County APA league owner, Pam Hall
APA league Owners and Sisters, Kelly and Pam Hall

Kelly Hall’s sister Pam Hall had purchased the Worcester County portion of New England APA from Kelly a few years back. “We both are strong women, to begin with, and my sister was in upper management at Pepsi before she dove into this adventure with me. We wanted to finish our careers out together and I knew she’d be a perfect fit,” said Kelly Hall.

When Pam was invited to join the company with her sister, she was thrilled. Kelly discussed with Pam, the business, billiards, and pool. Pam then began to go to tournaments to understand the rules of pool before starting as a league owner for the Worcester County APA.

“We love it because even though we have separate areas, we do a lot of the same, she has people that were in my area, so they know both of us, and it’s funny because they feel like they have both of us. We are very open with them,” Kelly hall said, “I get a lot of encouragement from my teammates, just one player has a bad match, we pick them up, just so much fun, getting together with friends every week. ”

Pam Hall added, “different social statuses come together, both higher and lower ups all help each other.”

Pam and Kelly Hall will be supporting all their APA teams and leading them to success for the chance to appear at the Las Vegas APA World Pool Championships in August.

22News is continuing this series with additional information on the league, stay tuned to WWLP.com. If you have an inspiring story contact 22News at reportit@wwlp.com.