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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Nice, Clean Sport

UMB “pool master” John Bagnera may be undefeated, but he is definitely not unscrupulous. In fact, he doesn’t even consider himself the best player in the game room. “There’s a lot out there who are better than me, I just seem to get lucky,” Bagnera stated during an interview when asked what it takes, and how does it feel, to be the “pool master” of UMass Boston.

Bagnera plays with students of UMB because there are a lot of “nice kids” on campus, as well as the benefits of the “nice new room” to enjoy shooting pool, the game which Bagnera refers to as “a nice, clean sport.” In the UMB game room, he has developed firm and confident relationships with many regular pool players, as well as employees. Senior psychology major Karim, who works in the game room, described Bagnera as, “an all American, ordinary hero.” He is indeed a hero-the recent champion of the Massachusetts State Tournament Finals, as well as star of his pool league at Somerville’s Good Time Billiards, Bagnera just won an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas to play pool with the big shots. Despite his powerful status in the national pool arena, he remains a three-year veteran of the game room. He is more than loyal to UMB students-Bagnera drops by the game room devoutly every week from his workplace across the street at the JFK archives where he has been working for the last five years.

Where does Bagnera fit in to the pool scene at UMB? He is an important component of the scene in the UMB game room. Absent of players, the premises has a sterile feel to it; a new room, bare white walls, furniture, a jukebox, six pool tables, and an assortment of video games. However, the room comes alive Monday thru Friday when students drop by between classes to catch a game or when the more avid students play regularly and partake in tournaments held each semester.

The game room subculture is the product of a multi-faceted, multi-layered operation: groups of students range from regulars who share a heart-filled passion for billiards to the occasional player who enjoys a simple getaway, or time-filler, between classes. Even amorous couples drop by the room on a daily basis where they lose themselves in a sea of aqua felt, shapers, scuffers, triangles, cues and chalk, and of course, that infamous 8-ball.

There are many types of frequent pool players at UMB, such as the diligent master of geometry and physics who sees all angles and knows where the ball will go even before his opponent shoots. Then there’s the new age, more eclectic student with his slick moves formulated from behind shiny black frames. Some go for a quick escape, a game between classes, whereas others, such as the “pool master,” go because they enjoy the company of fellow pool playing students mixed with the passion of shooting. For Bagnera, this home away from home is a place where he takes pride in playing with students, as well as sharing his skill and experience in the game.

He is modest about his talent, and states that he owes everything to his mentor, professional Richie Kravitz, who taught him everything he knows about the game of pool since he started playing only three years ago.

When Bagnera is not in the pool hall or at work, he can be found at the horse racing tracks. He is also a thoroughbred horse trainer, a skilled and compassionate professional, and he spends many weekends at the tracks. Bagnera is an athletic man, yet he doesn’t consider himself a competitive individual. When he enters the game room he considers himself a “target.”

“They all come at me. They’re all tough, surrounding me when I walk in. Many times I just make in on the break, and run,” Bagnera states. Is he downplaying his skill and success? He believes in the students at UMB, and although he is undefeated, he recognizes that everyone and anyone can be good in this sport. Bagnera looks up to professional pool players like Buster Marty, The Black Widow, a female player from China, his teacher Richie Kravitz, as well as James from the UMB game room. He considers them all to be examples of the best players out there.

For Bagnera, playing at UMB is an honor. He loves the beautiful harbor side location, the great teachers, and all of the sports and extracurricular activities offered at UMB. Moreover, he is supportive of the fact that there are more female players frequenting the game room, which is important considering pool is for everyone, and a sport of confidence.

All games have rules and are a combination of skill and luck, but pool is definitely a game where intellect and the fine finesse of planning and accuracy prevail over dumb luck.

If you check out a game in the new Campus Center, chances are Bagnera will be more than willing to teach you a few moves.