Junior International Championship Player of the Month – Hayleigh Marion

Hayleigh Marion

Our first Junior International Championship Player of the Month is none other than Hayleigh Marion from Bristol Virginia.

When selecting Hayleigh this month, Junior International Championship Tour Director Ra Hanna noted her tenacity and drive at the table. He mentioned a recent match that saw Hayleigh trailing early, before she came back to grind out a hill-hill win against a player who has since become a friend away from the table. “When I’m down in a match, I get more motivated and confident. I know I have to focus more on the table.” said Marion. “She got HEART” said Hanna in his inimitable style. While acknowledging Hayleigh’s dedication at the table, her Mom also points out her positive attitude. “To watch Hayleigh play you would see this young lady is fierce, she has fire in her eyes when she plays but, it also very humble. She has even told me ‘Mom it’s not about winning it’s about learning and getting better and having fun’. That is exactly what Hayleigh is doing. She is pursuing her passion. Hayleigh on / off the table keeps such a great attitude, you would never know if she made an exceptional shot or if she just dogged the ball and lost the game. She really never changes her reactions. “

Hayleigh has been playing the pool since the age of 8, when she first met WPBA Touring Professional Janet Atwell during a trip to Borderline Billiards in Bristol, Tennessee with her father Jamie. “That night was the very first time Hayleigh had ever picked up a pool cue and since then I can say she has never put it down.” says her Mom Robin. Atwell fondly remembers that night too. “Her very first trip to Borderline was with her dad and his friend. They didn’t want her to play because she was so young. I saw her crying because she couldn’t play. I came from behind the bar,
approached and asked if she would be my partner. We teamed up and played a couple of guys on the next table. I set her up on the 8-ball and she made the winning shot her first time ever playing the game. From there, she was hooked.”

While Hayleigh had previously had an interest in softball in school, that night with Atwell was all that it took for softball to be replaced in Hayleigh’s life. “I think it (pool) brings out my competitive side” said the young champion. “When you are out there playing, it’s all to you”.

An 8th place finish at the Junior event at the Super Billiards Expo got her the attention of Pechauer Cues and she was quickly offered a place on Team Pechauer. Hayleigh knew that sponsorship would mean more commitment, but she took on that challenge and hasn’t looked back since.

Hayleigh dedicates 4-8 hours to practice on the table most days, while still maintaining her place on her school’s honor roll. “I’ve always put school before pool. I will do my work at the pool hall and study even when I’m practicing sometimes.” explained Marion. “This past year Hayleigh has kept straight A’s and received a letter from a local congressman congratulating her for her efforts. Hayleigh’s school supports her playing pool, even cheering her on asking about her tournaments and posting things on social media.” said Mom.

Hayleigh Marion

While the like of a junior pool player doesn’t have an honor roll, if it did have one, there is no question that Hayleigh would be proudly sitting in it too. Hayleigh has a 5th place and a 2nd place finish at the Junior Nationals and won her first open ladies event in 2019 with a win at Steakhorse Billiards in South Carolina. Hayleigh also competed alongside Atwell at the Virginia State 10-Ball Championship. She had attended this event in the past, to cheer on Atwell, but she competed in the event in 2020 and turned in a 5th place finish.

Hayleigh is not just interested in winning tournaments though. She is a member of Borderline Billiards TAP league and she runs weekly tournaments on Thursday nights. “Hayleigh is a very active part of Borderline. I call her my little kitchen manager and tournament director. She helps in the kitchen and directs my weekly tournaments at Borderline.” says Atwell. Hayleigh also tries to encourage other junior players and bring them to the game. A trip to the local Boys and Girl’s Club in 2020 led Hayleigh to discovering that the pool tables there needed to be recovered. Hayleigh took it upon herself to a message to Simonis and get them to donate new cloth for the tables and they are scheduled to be redone this year.

Hayleigh’s short term goals include getting a win at one of the Junior International Championship tour stops and then hopefully wins at the Junior Nationals and maybe a spot on Team USA at the Junior World Championships. Long term, she hopes to join Atwell as a WPBA Touring Professional.

Hayleigh is currently sponsored by Pechauer Custom Cues, Borderline Billiards, Brutal Game Gear and Outsville Pool and Billiards. She is currently being coached by Janet Atwell, who she thanks for all her help at the table. “She’s gone from a very shy little girl, to a very mature young lady. She is dedicated to game in every way. She has a routine practice regimen that she does every week.” said Atwell. Hayleigh also thanks Ra Hanna for everything he does for the juniors, and her local coach Alex for the work he does with juniors at Borderline Billiards.

We offer our congratulations to Hayleigh Marion for being named the April Junior International Championship Player of the Month, and we can’t wait to follow her career in the game moving forward.

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of the Billiards Buzz Online Publication.