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Hitting the cues

Pool-playing child will be in film

April 11, 2010
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Fulton County's tiniest pool shark soon will make it to the big screen.

Keith O'Dell Jr., who will be 3 years old Wednesday, already has shown off his impressive pool skills on TV programs such as "The Rachael Ray Show" and the "Today Show."

Keith O'Dell Sr. said he will take his son down to Maryland later this month to shoot a scene for the movie "9-ball."

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

Keith O’Dell Jr. of Gloversville lines up a shot on a pool table in his bedroom Thursday.

Last month, Keith Jr. went to Valley Forge, Pa., to shoot some pool and meet the other cast members, his dad said.

"We just wanted to make sure he was comfortable with everyone" Keith Sr, said

The movie will be just the latest in a series of media appearances for O'Dell Jr. since he first started getting media attention for his pool playing a little more than a year ago.

All of that has lead to about half a dozen sponsorships for O'Dell Jr. Among those are Brunswick tables, which gave the family a free table, and McDermott Handcrafted Cues, which provided him and his younger brother, David, with child-sized cues.

The American Poolplayer Association also gave O'Dell Jr. a $2,500 scholarship check.

That is a good fit. O'Dell Sr. said the money being made will go to a scholarship fund for his son.

"He is going to college," O'Dell Sr. said about his son.

O'Dell Sr said both he and his wife, Courtney, are careful not to push Keith Jr. too hard or make him do anything he does not want to do. They have decided that they will only do something big - usually involving camera crews and traveling - once every six weeks.

They also show O'Dell Jr. the TV shows that want to have him on and ask, "Do you want to go play pool for them?" His response dictates whether they go, O'Dell Sr. said.

While most of the e-mails the couple has received since their son's pool skills started getting attention have been positive, O'Dell Sr. said, occasionally they did get one chiding them. O'Dell Sr. said these people have the mistaken assumption the couple are pushing their son to play.

"Listen, you can't make a 2 year old do anything," he said.

O'Dell Jr. does not even have a set practice regimen. He plays when he wants to. Some days he will play for two or three hours a day for a week. Other times, he won't play for two or three days.

O'Dell Sr. said if his son stops playing tomorrow, that's fine. If he keeps on playing, that's fine too.

"I just don't want it to be because we ruined it or someone else ruined it for him," O'Dell Sr. said.

As far as O'Dell Sr. is concerned, O'Dell Jr. is just a normal child who has a unique talent.

"This could have been 1,000 other kids, but we play and enjoy [pool] and he was around it," O'Dell Sr. said.

As if to confirm his father's point, Keith Jr. took a couple of shots on his pool tables Thursday. However, he was more interested in his toys and a large lollipop than playing pool that particular afternoon.

Of all the attention O'Dell Jr. has received, it seems his biggest fan may be his younger brother, David.

O'Dell Sr. said David loves watching Keith's video's on Youtube. They are the only thing he seems to be interested in on the computer, the father said, and when they are turned off David starts crying.

While Keith Sr. hopes David will find a hobby different than Keith's, Courtney noted given the way David is interested in what Keith Jr. is doing, he probably be following him into that too.

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