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Table soccer - Multitables - Kozoom Foos Interview - Houston (USA)

Kozoom Foos Interview of the week with Tracy McMillin

Posted by on May 27, 2016

Kozoom Foos Interview of the week with Tracy McMillin

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Hello Tracy. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Please give us a brief introduction about yourself and how you started playing the sport?

My name is Tracy McMillin and though I was born just outside Cincinnati, Ohio, I currently live in Houston, Texas. I've lived in the Houston area since the early 1980's.

I first discovered table soccer in 1984 when my brother Shawn and I came across a table at a small recreation center walking distance from the house. The center had pool, ping pong, and various activities outside like basket ball, kick ball, soccer, etc., but all we wanted to play was foosball. We played amongst friends there for several months until we came across a Tornado table in Pasadena, Texas. It was in a video arcade, The Quarter Arcade, across the street from the movie theater. We would go there and play as often as we could after the movies and eventually this became our new hang out, leaving the rec center behind.

There we met Dave Courington, and he had just started promoting foosball tournaments. He got us hooked on the game and helped us learn the basics, running weekly no entry beginner tournaments, all the while, keeping us within our little bubble. There was no youtube. There was no internet. We were all teens and had no clue about the history of foosball or the fact that people had not that long ago been playing for Corvettes, Porches, or $30,000 cash. We were also oblivious of all the incredible foosball talent in Houston and Pasadena, right in our back yard! Dave kind off protected us from that talent, which might have discouraged many of us newbie's from ever believing that we could ever develop the skills of those experienced pros. We all started playing at a time when the national foosball scene had just suffered a pretty big bust with the end of the TS (Tournament Soccer) era. Tornado was popular in Texas and maybe a few surrounding states, but I don't think it had anywhere near the footprint of TS. So, looking back, we were lucky to discover the game when we did. Dave Courington saw an opportunity to fill the void of a dead national tour that sent many players into retirement forever and others scattering, chomping at the bit to find a place to play.  

Who played a key role in your Foosball Success, would like to tell about your role models?

We were eventually exposed to the more seasoned players and learned about other local tournaments and the beginning of a national foosball tour on the Tornado table. Locally, Houston had almost 20 pro players during the time that I was progressing with my game. It was exciting because we had some very unique players to compete against. We had great pull shooters, of course. This is Texas we're talking about. I mean c'mon! But, we also had one of the top push shooters of all time, even though some called it a push jar. We had several push kick, pull kick, and front pin shooters as well. Names like Mark Snyder, John Carey, Cecil Sanchez, Richard Demetrios, Scott Means, Scott King, Carl Pederson, George Garber, Paul Biquet, Bryan Reece, Robert Janac, and Ronnie, Ricky, and Doug (Lewis Bros.). I've always known that being surrounded by so much diverse talent, played a key role in my foosball success, as it did with players like Eddy Gartman, Bill Bell, and Richard White, all three from Pasadena. The top dogs were the Smith Brothers, John and Daniel. I admired their skills, demeanor and teamwork, and having a brother myself, that played foosball, made it natural for me to see them as role models.

What is your favourite Table soccer memory?

One of my best foosball memories was going to my first World Championships, in 1985, and watching as the Smith Brothers won the open doubles title in an amazing match against Tom Spear and Todd Loffredo. I knew that I had found a new hobby and wanted to win foosball championships. You might say I was a late bloomer, since I never won any titles or even played in a finals at the amateur or semi-pro levels. 

How does the "table-soccer"- evening look like for you? Or earlier how often you give time for practicing or enjoying Table Soccer? Do you practice alone or with partner/friends/other players? Something you would like to share about your partner?

They say, work until your idols become your rivals. I wouldn't say I worked. I guess it's a good thing that it never felt like work. I played until those idols became my rivals! lol! I can remember thinking that the Smith Brothers were pretty much unbeatable in Houston. It just didn't happen. Then finally, Mark Snyder and I were able to beat them at the larger weekend city championships and such. Usually, we would beat them in a close match on Saturday night. But they would come storming back and beating us in 6 consecutive games (2 matches 3/5) on Sunday afternoon, many times with me being so nervous that I'd serve the ball right thru my 5 row to John Smith's 3 row on game ball. Those were painful. Lol. But, I didn't let it get me down. I was just happy to be there. Eventually, we did get close the deal and eventually, I was honored to play alongside John and also Daniel years later. Over my 30 years of playing I was fortunate to team up with many other idols and rival players, like Loffredo, Mares, Rue, T. Moore, R. Moore, Pappas, Mohs, C. Head, Zamora, Zoller, Adkisson, Murray, Gartman, Sipiora, Chalifoux and my brother Shawn.

Most people in the foosball world probably already know this, but my foosball career would never have been complete without Dave Gummeson. Many probably do know that I was a forward for 15 years before moving to the goalie rods for Dave. He had elements of the game that I just didn't have. He had that amazing 5 bar passing rod and in my opinion, the best straight in the game. He also had a work ethic on the table like I had never seen. There was always an unspoken challenge to show up prepared for the big tour events for years. We became the best of friends in the coming years and have just had a complete blast playing the game all over the country and the world as one of the few pure teams of our era, even teaming multiple times on the USA World Cup team.

Is the table-soccer scene growing or receding? Can you explain why (according to you)?

It's very refreshing to see that foosball is being promoted to the youth in the US recently. John O'Brien is doing something very special. He's developed a program that is gaining a lot of momentum, with getting foosball tables into schools. The kids are eating it up. Foosball just might live on in the US thanks to foosball clubs USA and John O'Brien and IFP.

Something related to your foosball career, you would like to share with fellow foosballers or readers?

Flash forward to today, I've had a very satisfying foosball career. I have played competitive foosball for 31 years. I have attended every Tornado Worlds since 1985, a streak of 30. I've won multiple World, National, and various State Championships during that time, mostly in doubles and mixed doubles. My singles talent has only taken me to State Champion level. If I never win another match, I feel like my foosball dreams came true. I feel very blessed to have such fun memories of foosball competition. I also feel blessed to have played with and competed against so many great people, amazingly, people from all over the world. These people have always been more than friends, more like family. I'm realizing this now more than ever, since I'm older and can look back at it nearly 30 years. Also, I know I'm not the only player that can say they've spent more holiday weekends playing foosball with friends than with their families. 

Thank you. I wish you all the best with playing tablesoccer. Have a great day ahead.

 

 

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