Team Captain of the Month – Tyler Stephenson

Meet Tyler Stephenson, our September Team Captain of the Month! Tyler captains 2 teams; Chug-a-lug and Pick Pockets for Tarrant County UPA, owned and operated by Ryan Schmidt and Betty Robinson.

Tyler at a glance:

8-Ball OS: 5
8-Ball Team Ranking: 37
US Rank: 384
Member since: 9/5/2016
Playing Cues: Lucasi & Elite Break Cue

How long have you been playing and what got you started?

My folks separated when I was around 8 and when I would see my dad, he would take me to a local pool hall to shoot. I couldn’t even see over the table, but my dad was a good player and would never let me win, said I had to earn it. When I later joined the Military, most bases had pool tables and that’s what we would do with spare time.

How did you get started with the UPA?

Ryan and I are lifelong friends and reconnected through another league years ago. When our home bar closed down, I pulled my team and joined up with Ryan and Betty.

What is your favorite part about playing in a UPA league?

I enjoy the family atmosphere and that we can all show up and have a good time. Pool is a hobby and league nights should be fun. It’s serious play, but you can still communicate with your team and UPA rules afford you to enjoy the game without the stressors.

What do you like most about being a Team Captain?

That my team trusts me. We’ve played together for so long they trust me to make the right decisions as far as the line up goes and who’s playing that night.

What is your fondest UPA memory?

When I saw that both my teams had taken 1st place last session. I got to tell the team that we finally did it!

What qualities do you think make for a good Team Captain?

Compassion, understanding, tenacity and reasonability. Knowing when to be bold, when to be defensive and using intuition and forethought.

What are some challenges you’ve faced being a Team Captain?

Personality issues that can arise with any group. Being a captain means leading and it’s important to mitigate before it becomes an issue. Figure out what you can do to stop issues before they start. I have 3 rules for my players:

  1. Play to your ability. Throw the game and you’re off the team.
  2. Commit or don’t. Communicate in advance if you can’t make it.
  3. No domestic drama. Don’t bring your family drama to league.

What advice do you have for future UPA Team Captains?

Be patient. You’re not going to put together a winning squad right away. If you make a mistake, it happens! You just have to own it. You’ll get more respect from your team by acknowledging and admitting your mistakes.

How do you coach your players?

Anytime you have a new player there is always going to some type of learning curve, even if they are a good shooter. Even though you’re looking to win you still have to take the time to mold your players. Observe their match and then take the time to teach after the match has ended.

What is your match up strategy?

It’s chess, not checkers. I start with the team match-up and look at the players and their win percentages. Typically I like playing straight up matches, however every now and then that doesn’t work out. I recently played my 2 against a 5 because the 5 was having an off session.

Describe your playing style:

Erratic. It depends on who I’m playing. I don’t like playing safes as I would rather shoot out. However, I will change up my style for strategic defense against someone who I know can run out if I miss.

Will we see your team at Nationals?

My absolute dream has always been to form a team and win together in Vegas!

In closing, Tyler also had a few kind words to say about his team:

A Captain is only as good as the team. Colton Daniel is our co-captain, I rely on him a lot and couldn’t do this without him. Jeff Bush is our advanced player and has helped to bring all of our games up a little. Jen Durbin is awesome, when she walks in, it just all comes together. And to the team, you make it easy, each and every one of you. It is only because of you that this opportunity is possible, we have come so far!

Thanks for your time and great advice Tyler. Good luck to both your teams this session and we hope to see you and your team at Nationals!