Taking the Best Shot

Amy Daugherty earned an Associate of Arts degree from A-B Tech and a BA in Economics from UNC Asheville. Photo: Urban News
by Johnnie Grant –

Amy Daugherty is a professional billiard player, aiming higher and higher with each tournament she plays.

Born in Asheville, she learned both difficult lessons and valuable motivations as a young woman, which have long since translated into a commitment to approach problems as challenges rather than insurmountable hurtles. As for so many of us, her parents were her biggest influences.

She says, “My father, Edward Daugherty, instilled in me perseverance and problem-solving and motivated me with a desire and responsibility to help the community. He has been a faithful and active member at Bethel Seventh Day Adventist church for over 50 years.”

He had dropped out of high school in the 9th grade, but was determined to finish: he obtained his GED while in his thirties.

“What I gleaned from my home environment was parents who instilled a sense of perseverance and a love of knowledge,” said Amy. “My mother, Cleo, gave me the freedom to dream,” she recalls. In fact, her mother bought so many books—on science, philosophy, black consciousness, religion, and other subjects—at thrift stores that her parents turned the den into a library.

Despite that love of learning, Amy dropped out of Asheville High before graduating, because of an early pregnancy. And though, as a child, she had had her career dreams, she worked a number of undesirable jobs and then, she notes, “I realized my limited education would only take me so far. Unless I made some drastic decisions, I would not be able to effectively care for my family. The U.S. Navy was the perfect avenue. I gained a skill, Electronics Technician for air traffic control radar, as well as the money and the resources to attend college.”

Rather than becoming an artist, corporate raider, or a scientist—among her youthful aspirations—Amy discovered that she couldn’t be all those things, at least not at the same time. Her parents encouraged her to explore widely different careers, but to temper her search with practicality.

“They taught me that the wise person should remember you can do anything—but not everything. Some interests should stay a hobby instead of a career.”

So, after her military service, she earned an Associate of Arts degree from A-B Tech and a BA in Economics from UNCA.

“I made a promise to my daughter when she was born that I would get my degree. I refused to let me and my children become another statistic as a single mom. Following a plan they had strategized together, her family all graduated from school the same year: Amy from UNCA, her daughter, Tykara Young, from Warren-Wilson College, and her son, Michael Chavis II, from Owen High school.”

So, naturally, the question arises: Why billiards?

“Billiards,” she says, “is a fascinating complex game of patience. It is because of its complexity that I am drawn to billiards. One of the factors that separate the professional billiard player from the amateur is the ability to know when to be aggressive and when to play safe. That distinction is important in life and in sport. I have used this metaphor for my life decisions … with admittedly mixed results.”

Amy’s interest in playing billiards came after she left the military.

“I walked into the NorthSide Grill in 2004 and saw a young woman playing pool. She noticed me and asked if I wanted to be her partner in the game they were playing. I said, ‘Sure.’ I never really played before, but I thought, ‘Why not?’

“The game came down to the 8-ball which was close to the pocket. Because it was behind the line, or ‘in the kitchen,’ I had to kick at the ball in order to make it. She confidently said, ‘You are going to love this shot. Aim for the third diamond on the left side rail with a good hit, you are going to make that 8 ball.’”

“I was skeptical but did as I was told and it went in. After that I was hooked. I joined the amateur pool league, American Pool Players Association, to hone my skills and became a team captain. The APA is an outstanding organization for a new billiards player. The handicapping system allows new players the chance to win against higher skill levels.”

The game gives her regular opportunities to test herself, and she has made numerous friends and contacts. She’s also traveled and played across the country, and even in Rotterdam, Holland.

“The rewards have been winning a trip to Las Vegas. I am going to play for $10,000 in Team Captains tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 11, 2018.

As for the future, Amy Daugherty has not given up dreams of doing more than one thing. She is driven to help others, and what’s in her sightlines is joining an organization to teach economic literacy and mentor young men and women on overcoming adversity and becoming financial independent.

“My future endeavors are to educate and mentor people in billiards and in economics. I sincerely believe that every person should have economic literacy. Economics teaches one how to think about all costs and how to utilize resources for the most beneficial outcome. Given the current income inequality, understanding economics is more important now more than ever,” concluded Amy.