STONEY NAKODA – It's not every day you find a shark on land, but that is exactly where Stoney Nakoda pool player Clint Bearspaw spends most his time.
Gearing up for a tournament in Calgary this past weekend, Bearspaw sat down with the Outlook to discuss how doing laundry at a young age led to the 35-year-old winning the Las Vegas 8-Ball championships.
"Me and my uncle use to go to the city to do laundry and the laundromat was right beside a pool hall, so we used to spend hours there," Bearspaw said.
"So I got into it then when I was 22, some older guys started playing in a league in the city and asked me to come out and play for the night and I did."
After joining the team 13 years ago, the Stoney Nakoda man started playing competitively and never looked back.
Playing in tournaments at least twice a week, but sometimes up to three or four nights, Bearspaw has travelled through North America for more than a decade gaining titles and winning prize money along the way.
With an American Cue Sport Alliance second place Singles win in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, the pool player talked about the perks of competitive pool playing.
"I love playing pool, it gets my mind off things, keeps me out of trouble and I also win money – that is the best part," he said with a laugh.
Buying a new $1,800 pool cue in January, Bearspaw said he was able to pay it off by the beginning of March thanks to tournament winnings.
Pool cues can typically range anywhere in price from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, and travelling to tournaments across the province and out of country is also not cheap.
It's why Bearspaw's family hosted a small fundraiser on the Nation last week, selling Indian tacos and handmade jewelry for the Cue Sports Live Invitational entry fee.
"It's lots of travelling – I've tried to make all the tournaments and only missed one last season," he said proudly.
Playing with several organization, such as SML Pool leagues, American Cue Sports and Billiard Congress of America – to name a few – the shark said it is a sport that keeps him busy.
Bearspaw said there is a league every season, along with different tournaments throughout the year.
"I like it. Calgary has probably some of the [top] players in Alberta, possibly all of Canada and you can find money, games and action in the city most nights of the week," he said.
And he doesn't plan to slow down anytime soon.
After taking a three-year hiatus from 2012-15, Bearspaw said jumping back into the sport has been great, as he is already considered a Calgary and Vegas 'Master.'
Noting several highlights from this year alone, including winning first place for 8-Ball Singles in the 17th annual Western Championship for the Canadian Cue Sport Association and also placing second for Men's/Mixed Open 8-Ball Teams with the American Cue Sports Alliance in Las Vegas, Bearspaw wants to keep shooting for the stars.
The 2020 goal – Grand Master.