University alumni gives pool lessons at Illini Union


Jessica Jutzi

Students receive pool lessons in the Rec Room in the Illini Union every Monday night for 7 weeks for $50.

By Olivia Bievenue, Staff Writer

David O’Rourke has 53 years of pool experience in his pocket. For the next seven weeks, every Monday night from 5 to 8 p.m., O’Rourke will be at the Illini Union Recreation Room, teaching University students the ins and outs of the game he loves.

Pool School has begun at the Illini Union Recreation Room.  The Union is offering pool lessons for beginners every Monday night from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and lessons for intermediate players from 6:30 to 8 p.m.  Students can pay $50 for nine weeks of instruction.  

O’Rourke, a University alumni who has been playing pool since he was 18, is the instructor for Pool School. O’Rourke first started teaching pool when he was a student at the University.  He has also previously taught lessons around the C-U area, in people’s homes and in various pool halls.

He was retired from teaching but recently decided to teach lessons again at the Union.

O’Rourke, who has competed in numerous pool tournaments, said students who participate in Pool School can not only learn the technical aspects of the game but also how to have fun while playing.

“What they can learn from Pool School is how to play the game competitively, how to make the game enjoyable for themselves and others,” O’Rourke said.

Players of any skill level can participate in the lessons. While O’Rourke’s teaching for both beginners and intermediates is based on developing fundamentals, beginners learn more basic information about bridge, stance and stroke. Intermediate lessons are more complex.

“(Intermediate lessons) get more into the intricacies of the game.  What kind of things can you make the cue ball do? How can you play different games and get enjoyment out of it?” O’Rourke said.

Dylan Lidge, senior in AHS, is a student in the Pool School beginner lessons.  He said the reason he joined Pool School is to make his game more consistent.

“I play recreationally, once in a while.  I definitely need some work,” Lidge said.

Donna Wargo is the manager of the Illini Union Rec Room and organizer of Pool School.  She said the goal of Pool School is “to give students an opportunity to better their skills in a game that people don’t always have an opportunity to have someone teach them.”

Wargo said the Illini Union Rec Room has been putting on Pool School for three years now, and although there is a small number of students that participate, those students enjoy the lessons and may participate multiple times to improve their skills.

“We’ve been doing this for about three years now, and each semester it varies a little bit with how many (students attend),” Wargo said. “We have anywhere from 10 to 20 people join, and sometimes they repeat it because we have a beginners and an intermediate, so they might join the beginners and they learn some things and then they go on to the intermediate and improve that.”

Wargo also praised O’Rourke for his skills.

“We have an individual that comes down here regularly on his own, and he has an interest and a skill in teaching, and he offered to teach that,” Wargo said.

Lidge said he was pleased with his first lesson with O’Rourke.

“It was awesome.  I think that Dave is a great coach,” Lidge said.

Students still hoping to join Pool School are always welcome even though the first week of instruction was Feb. 13. O’Rourke said he has had students join as late as five weeks into the lessons.

“You can play anytime. People will be coming in next week and the week after,” O’Rourke said.

He also said he loves the game and loves teaching it to people, so he welcomes anyone to join Pool School.

“The kids who want to learn, they want to get better,” O’Rourke said. “I see them get better.  They feel good about it, I feel good about it, and I like it.  I like the game, and I like to share that knowledge with other people and see them develop.”

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