MOUNT VERNON — Billiards has long been a tradition in Knox County and the Valley League, established in 2007, proves that interest in the sport is as strong as ever. The Valley League, which kicked off its 26-week season Thursday at Legends Sports Bar, has grown to 14 teams with five players each. While everyone is there to have fun, the competition is serious.
“Pool in Mount Vernon is very dominant around the state,” said Valley League player and representative Marc Fiorilli. “Some of these players went up to Mansfield to play there, but they only have eight teams. For a size county we are, having 14 teams in this area says a lot for pool around here. There was The Office bar and there were a few other good pool halls around here. There’s a lot of players here, who have parents and grandparents, who played in the old Valley League (which disbanded in the 1990s).”
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The league meets at a different bar each week, rotating between Legends, Bad Apple, The Howard Hilton, Dutch’s and Flappers. The Valley League plays on a handicap system to keep things competitive and allow players at all skill levels to take part.
The league also includes a pair of women’s teams, which compete, on an equal footing, with the men.
Fiorilli’s team also went to the state last spring, placing second. Along with Fiorilli, the other members of the team are Roger McDonald, Joe Pilotti, Stacey Blubaugh and Marco Celli.
“The fees to get into this league help pay for the entry fee for the state,” Fiorilli said. “There are 256 teams there and it’s a blast. They set up 110 tables at the Canton Civic Center. You’re down on the basketball floor and you look up into the stands full of people. We started shooting on Friday all the way until noon on Sunday. You’re just shooting and shooting.”
Mount Vernon was well represented in the crowd at Canton, as well.
“All our teams went up because we all support each other in Mount Vernon,” Fiorilli said. “Of course, everyone brought their family. It was just a really good time.”
Being state runner-up also gave Fiorilli and his teammates a berth in the nationals in Las Vegas in June of 2019.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” Fiorilli said.
The Valley League is for players over 21, but there is also a youth league for youngsters who are interested in the game.
“It all starts with the youth in any sport,” Fiorilli said. “They can shoot here, in Newark or in Columbus. You see, we’re really trying to bring that home.”
For more information about joining an adult or youth pool league in Knox County, contact Legends or any of the other sports bars in the area.