April is Autism Awareness Month and a group of pool players is using the game they love to help those in need. Among them a former trick shot champion turned public school teacher who knows his angels inside and out.
By day, Andy Segal teaches math at Forest Hills High School in Queens. By night he teaches lessons on the pool table.
"I teach geometry so every once in a while I'll throw in pool as an example," Segal said.
And he's got plenty of examples to choose from. From 2009 to 2016 Segal was the number 1 ranked trick shot pool player in the world. He literally wrote the book on trick shot pool.
"I met the right people, I guess. My parents would say I met the wrong people. But I met the right people and it got me involved in pool and I kind of advanced."
One of the people Segal met playing pool was his wife. When she was a college co-ed he challenged her to a game of nine ball and lost.
"That game went well for me because 27 years later we are still together," Kim Segal said.
Today the couple still hangs out in billiard halls around New York City on occasion. Every Monday night they play in the Shooters Club 9 Ball Charity League on Long Island.
"Everybody knew about Andy Segal," said Ted Dabrowski.
Dabrowski runs the league, which has raised more than $50,000 for the ASCENT - a school for individuals with autism.
He says Segal's skills in the classroom have carried over to the pool table.
"He has helped some players become 3, 4, or 5 times better than they are," Dabrowski said. "He's such a giving person that he really helps out."
But when it comes to practical applications, Segal says teaching just doesn't translate to the table.
"Math and science, believe it or not, despite what everyone says has nothing to do with pool. I could pull out 20 random professional pool players and I'd be lucky if I found one that could add," Segal said.
That might be one big reason why Segal got into teaching. Today he's retired from trick shot pool competitions, but he still does shows from time to time for special events and charities. To donate to the ASCENT school, visit ascentschool.org.AlertMe