High School Champ — Bonnie Hoffman

“I guess I’m a pool fanatic, ” says Bonnie Hoffman, 14. the new girls’ national high school champion of ’84. She won her title in Chicago last December at the NPCA’s annual Classic Pool Championship. “If I’m not shooting the pockets every day, I’m uneasy. I say to my dad, ‘Let’s go shoot a few games’, and he takes me and my sister, Sharon, to a hall a few blocks away from our house. ”

The St. Petersburg, Florida youngster has been shooting since she was 9 years old, and began entering national contests at the early age of ten. “I think the exposure to national tournament pressure is important, ” says her dad, Louie Hoffman, who is a longtime proponent of pool in Florida.

But Louie Hoffman is quick to admit that he does not play the game as well as his daughter Bonnie, the new high school champ. “She’s too smart for me. She leaves me long and plays me safe, and when she sees the frustration is wearing thin, she strikes and runs out. After a couple dozen of those experiences, I realized I can’t give her the pressure situations she needs, and that my best contribution would be to coach.

“Bonnie doesn’t like to lose, ” says her Dad. “She lets it linger a little too long. But she’s realizing that a past loss is past history, and it shouldn’t affect her next game. ”

Bonnie is also learning to cope with another contradiction young competitors often have to master: winning, even though it might be against a good friend. “That was hard for me to do at first, ” says Bonnie. “In Women’s tournaments, since some of the women that I play against are also good friends or women players that I have idolized, I find that I feel sorry after I win a match. It doesn’t make me feel good to beat them.”

“That’s part of the learning process, ” Louie Hoffman tells his daughter in the coaching sessions. “It takes experience. After awhile, she’ll get over that contradiction. She’ll realize, like all of us, that chagrin at beating a pool friend at the table, isn’t half as bad as the feeling you get when you lose. ”

“I want the girls (in addition to Bonnie and Sharon, older daughter Corinne, is also a player) to enjoy what they are doing. If they are having fun, I will continue to drive them to tournaments in Florida, or fly them to national tournaments. I  don’t want to force them to practice, or to enter them in tournaments without their consent. We’ll stop when it stops being fun for them, ”

Bonnie is a celebrity at her high school in St. Petersburg, where some of the youngsters can’t believe a national girls’ champion resides in their classrooms. Her school work hasn’t suffered. “I guess I don’t watch as much TV as other students, ” says Bonnie. “I’m practicing at the pool hall instead. ”

Bonnie’s career interest is currently architecture. But in the meantime, she’s aiming for the gold. “It’s nice to know I’m a high school champ. I want to work hard and become a national women’s champ someday. ”

Keep your eye on a slenderly built redhead from St. Pete, Florida, Bonnie Hoffman.

This article originally appeared in the February 1984 issue of the National Billiard News and is reprinted with permission.