Mike Massey knows small towns.
From his hometown of Loudon, Tenn., a place “a lot smaller than Craig,” the 63-year-old Massey has been able to accomplish big things.
The trick pool shot specialist has a resume that includes the following: 2002 World Artistic Champion, 2005 Billiard Congress Hall of Fame inductee, and the 2000 and 2001 ESPN Trick Shot Magic Champion.
He said the next big trick shot ace could come from anywhere.
“I like small towns — I’m from a small town,” Massey said. “You feel like you get to know more people.
“I’ve met a lot of good people, and there are a lot of really good players here in Craig.”
On Saturday afternoon, Massey, who currently lives in Utah, came to Mathers Lounge & Café in downtown Craig to talk with local pool players and give tutorials.
During his four-hour exhibition, Massey showed players several different trick shots.
Local pool players had a chance to play against Massey, whose tricks ranged from complex angled shots to backspinners that acted like yo-yos.
Being back in a small town and being up-close and personal with other pool players is where Massey said he likes to be.
“I’ve been to 45 countries,” he said. “But, I like coming back and putting on shows in small towns.”
Michelle Reed, president of the Yampa Valley American Poolplayers Association, said her organization had Massey visit Mathers to drum up enthusiasm for the upcoming league season.
“I can’t remember the last time there was a celebrity pool player in Craig,” she said. “We feel lucky to have been able to schedule such a skilled player.”
Massey said the APA lets everyone play on the same field.
“Anyone can play anyone and win,” he said. “The (handicap) system really levels the playing field, so everyone is in the same league.”
Reed said she wanted potential league players to come in and get excited about the upcoming season, while learning techniques from a hall-of-fame player.
“For me, it’s about playing pool,” she said. “We want to have people interested in playing, and we want them to come back and keep playing.”
The Yampa Valley APA fall season begins Sept. 7.
There will be an informational meeting and video presentation at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at Mathers.
Massey said his job is easy because everyone in attendance was enthusiastic about learning.
“I like to talk to people who are interested in pool,” he said. “Young or old, I like talking to everyone.”
In that regard, Massey said his visit was a success.
“I want them to feel good,” he said. “My goal has always been to see everyone smile.
“This is my livelihood, but at the same time, you can’t take it too serious.”