Jeanette Lee (aka the Black Widow) is known around the world as one of the preeminent pool players in the world. Former athletic stars from University Louisville and University of Kentucky along with J Wagner Group and Jeanette are bringing us a new Derby Event. The Battle of the Bluegrass Celebrity Pool Tournament to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters and Kickoff 4 Kids will take place May 3 from 7:30 p.m. to 11: 30 p.m. at the Ice House.
I caught up with Jeanette to find out about what it takes to stay on the billiards’ circuit and being involved in this first-time Derby event.
Lori Kommor: Tell me how your billiards’ career got started?
Jeanette Lee: I played in local tournaments and as I began to start winning them, I dared to play in bigger and bigger events till I found myself playing all over the world. I knew that banking on prize money wouldn’t be enough, especially since expenses were so high, so I also knew I’d need to learn more about self-promotion and marketing. It all fell together.
LK: How did you acquire the name the Black Widow?
JL: A room owner named Gabe Vigorito called me that because he said I lured my opponents to the table and then ate them alive. It was funny at the time but it stuck like glue! I guess the name fits!
LK: You have won more than 30 national and international titles and are formally ranked the No. 1 player in the world. How do you stay on top in the billiards world and raise a family?
JL: It’s really hard for anyone to balance work and family. It requires so much dedication and time to play at your top level, and I have such a passion to be close to my children and be a great mom. I think it’s a matter of making quality out of everything you do since time is so short. That means less TV on the couch and more of each waking moment. I try to make sure that I spend fun time, learning time and cuddle time with my kids and most importantly, when they are sad or sick, I want to make sure that I’m the one that’s there for them. The organizing of their clothes and housework takes a back seat. I can’t do it all … so I get help with the things that aren’t as important. When I practice pool, I have specific goals instead of just banging balls around to stay sharp. When I am with friends, I try to really enjoy that time and not worry about the small stuff. This is, of course, all tough to do. We find ourselves caught up with the wheels that squeak the loudest instead of controlling what we do each day based on our priorities. … But it’s what I try to do.
LK: How did you get involved with Battle of the Bluegrass Celebrity Pool Tournament?
JL: I was fortunate enough to be invited by Kerry Rhodes who played at UofL to his celebrity billiards tournament in Arizona, and we had a great time! I met Anthony Holt of BV Filmworks at the event who know’s Joey Wagner of the J Wagner Group, who got me involved with the Bluegrass Celebrity Pool Tournament. I love doing events like this – especially schooling men on the pool table! Hehe!
LK: Do you have a Derby favorite?
JL: I don’t have a favorite horse, I just hope it’s an exciting finish!
LK: Have you ever been to the Derby?
JL: I have not been to the Derby before, but it’s something I’ve wanted to go to at some point in my life. It seems like quite an event!