Some say we’ve built a better mousetrap. Others call it a gift to local poolplayers. NOVA BCA was founded by two former APA teammates who became tired of a broken system. Rather than complain or force themselves to struggle within it, they put their heads together to create a better option — one that’s focused on the players as opposed to the league office. It’s taken us several years to learn the lay of the land. We’ve made mistakes but arrived at what we feel is a breakthrough product. We’re a more accessible pool league as a result. Instead of being driven by money, we run our group like a non-profit. This allows us to make decisions based almost entirely on quality.
Eric S. Townsend (Co-Founder)
A marketing executive and author of more than 20 books, Eric has consistently put the best interests of billiards and its players first.
As a child, Eric shot pool at the local rec center. Yes, the pool cue was taller than he was. His mouth and the cue ball took turns at which could run faster. He entered tournaments in college to help fund his expensive dating habit. He was often spotted in the Commons building at the University of Richmond. There are floor-to-ceiling windows and a lone table that overlooks a lake.
After college, he met his wife and fellow NOVA BCAPL player Gwen Townsend at Babe’s Billiards near American University. She assigned the tables and kept them tidy (a side job while finishing up her studies). She’s gone on to become a leading player on the former Planet Pool Tour, J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) and Action Pool Tour (APT). She was the first woman to advance to a regional event in American Rotation (and was the #1 seed). She’s competed against BCA Hall of Famers Allison Fisher, Karen Corr, and Loree Jon Hasson (and studied under Fisher at her academy).
From 2000 to 2010, Eric served as an APA captain. He mentored several players along their way to the top of the amateur game. His teams were named division champion on 15 occasions in four different rooms: Buffalo Billiards – Washington DC, Champions Billiards – Arlington VA, Carpool – Arlington VA and Fast Eddies – Fairfax VA. He entered the league as a ballbanger and steadily climbed the ranks. He earned earned Most Valuable Player three times.
From 2001 to 2005, he played cash games as well as league. He ran with Carlos Barreto and Steve Betts plus setup his own games. For a short time, he was the highest rated player in The Virginia Pool League (VPL) at Carpool in Arlington VA.
In 2007, he reached APA’s highest attainable handicap (7) in his beloved 8 Ball.
In 2009, Eric and fellow poolplayer Brian Cheung left the APA team format. They reached out to Cue Sports International (CSI) to bring the BCA Pool League back to Northern Virginia. They founded NOVA BCA. In the format, Eric initially achieved a player average of 8 (a.k.a. 42) and a Fargo Rating of 531. His team has been division champs twice.
In 2012, Eric authored Sharking: Don’t Get Fooled Again, a colorful book with a simple antidote to distractions and billiard gamesmanship (available through GoBooklets.com and Amazon). The book garnered praise from Phil Capelle, author of A Mind For Pool and the Play Your Best Pool series.
In 2014, Eric was named the second tournament director for the Action Pool Tour by Ozzy Reynolds (though ultimately he decided to pass the reins and focus more on his writing endeavors). He was hired by professional pool player and billiard instructor Joe Tucker and his business partner Don Owen of OB Cues in support of The American Billiard Club (ABC). He assisted with product development and helped to take American Rotation, its flagship game, to market. At BCAPL Nationals, Eric and Gwen finished in the top 75 pairs in the 8 Ball Scotch Doubles event and Team Ridonk debuted in the Open 8 Ball team competition. The team’s polo design has since inspired a billiard fashion line by the same name.
In 2015, Eric was director of the international billiard competition (8 Ball, 9 Ball, straight pool) at the World Police and Fire Games. He worked with Dan Madden from the Pennsylvania 9Ball Tour, BCA instructor and professional stream commentator George Hammerbacher and Lucasi-sponsored professional pool player Shaun Wilkie. He created NOVA BCA’s differential system to better challenge and reward both new and established players.
In 2016, Team Ridonk took 9th Place at BCAPL Nationals in the Mixed Teams 8Ball event (2,750 points division). They were eliminated in brutal fashion, falling 13-12 after reaching the hill first at 12-10. Their opponents went on to claim 2nd Place in the event. Eric went 13-8 (W/L) for the tournament.
In 2017, He provided support to Scott and Christopher Wilburn’s NOVA Action (a streamed, head-to-head competition with a Top 10 list you can challenge in 8ball, 9ball and 10ball). He partnered with former APA division rep Donnie Rogan to bring NOVA BCAPL to its second venue (Hard Times in Springfield VA). The league now plays three consecutive nights (Tuesday through Thursday) each week. At BCAPL Nationals, Team Ridonk finished a disappointing 49th in the Mixed Teams 8Ball event (2,750 points division). Eric went 12-6 (W/L) for the tournament.
In 2018, at BCAPL Worlds, Team Ridonk rebounded with a strong 13th Place finish in the Mixed Teams 8Ball event (2,750 points division). Eric went 13-12 (W/L) for the tournament. It was his third straight event with a winning record.
In 2019, Eric and NOVA BCA co-founder Brian Cheung began to lend support to Northern Virginia Amateur Tour (NVAT), led by NOVA BCA Founder’s Circle recipient Christopher Wilburn. NVAT’s mission is to attract more amateur pool players to tournament play and to promote camaraderie. By player vote, the tour is restricting entry to players rated 650 Fargo or lower. NVAT will hit five of the top pool venues in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Events are modified double-elimination, with points awarded for results. An invite-only finale will feature the top 16 players by points. Each event will include a full calcutta. Featured matches and a drawing for one free entry per event will be broadcasted for international audiences on streaming service Twitch. The tour has adopted BCA in-game rules. NVAT has been renamed to DMVAT to reflect players from DC, MD, and VA a.k.a. DMV. In November, Eric relocated to the Seattle area for work. He continues to run NOVA BCA remotely with local operators in support.
In 2021, Eric finished 7th at the Pocatello Open (Idaho), an 8Ball competition staged across 6 rooms. He also saw improved play in a local cash league (Everett WA) where he won 72% of his racks and led his team to an undefeated regular season. He is developing three related billiard games and actively testing them for introduction in 2021/22.
For BCAPL, Townsend handles player recruiting, branding, marketing, website development, and our relationships with local venues.
Brian S. Cheung (Co-Founder)
Brian is a former team captain in the American Poolplayers Associations (APA). He’s a graduate of George Mason University with a focus in Economics. He grew up working in two family businesses (a restaurant and a property management company) and running his own technology products and consulting business.
In 2007, Brian reached his highest attained handicap in the APA (SL 6).
In 2009, Brian founded NOVA BCA with his former APA teammate Eric S. Townsend. This marked the return of BCAPL to Northern Virginia after an absence of several years.
In 2015, Brian began to practice target shooting at his local range. The comparisons between billiards and the shooting sport are many. For starters, a missed skeet is just as costly as a hung object ball — perhaps more so. In fact, skill levels are separated by just a handful of percentage points or less.
In 2016, Brian began to compete in a target shooting division. His ascension was swift. He was the Spring 2016 League HOA Champion (Highest Overall Average). He followed that with Summer 2016 B Class Champion.
In 2017, Brian advanced in his division and became the Spring 2017 A Class Champion. He also began to work as a private instructor for new shooters.
In 2019,Brian and NOVA BCA co-founder Eric Townsend began to lend support to Northern Virginia Amateur Tour (NVAT), led by NOVA BCA Founder’s Circle recipient Christopher Wilburn. NVAT’s mission is to attract more amateur pool players to tournament play and to promote camaraderie. By player vote, the tour is restricting entry to players rated 650 Fargo or lower. NVAT will hit five of the top pool venues in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Events are modified double-elimination, with points awarded for results. An invite-only finale will feature the top 16 players by points. Each event will include a full calcutta. Featured matches and a drawing for one free entry per event will be broadcasted for international audiences on streaming service Twitch. The tour has adopted BCA in-game rules.
For BCAPL, he handles business administration, scheduling and our relationship with the CSI national office (our parent company in Las Vegas).
Donnie Rogan (Founder's Circle member)
Donnie Rogan’s journey in pool has been remarkable — and it’s only recently begun.
In 2010, Donnie joined the American Poolplayers Association (APA) to hit balls and hang out on weeknights. It was that simple at first. But more than his desire to compete (which is certainly contagious), he enjoys meeting diverse people and doing whatever he can to improve their lives. His values have been enriched by 18 successful years as owner of a chimney sweep business.
In 2012, a short two years after he joined the league, Donnie received the blessing of his peers and was promoted to APA division rep.
In 2013, Donnie suffered the first of two strokes. While his eyesight hasn’t been the same at the table since, his vision has only strengthened. He began to see a bigger picture.
In 2014, Donnie approached management at Hard Times (in Springfield VA, his local room) about upgrading the poolplaying experience. He worked with their budget and came out of pocket for the rest. He hired a professional to install new rails on all 18 tables and put the room on a 6-month re-felting schedule. He purchased 8 sets of Aramith tournament balls, 2 Bludworth ball washers (one for each floor of the establishment), 36 bar stools and four 36″ diameter tables. He also created and moderates the “Pool at Hard Times” Facebook page and started a wall of fame for individual honors and team plaques.
In 2015, Donnie organized fundraising events for Toys for Tots and two U.S. junior players to compete in an international tournament in Europe (Taylor Hansen, April Larson). Hansen has gone on to rank among the top 10 women’s players in the United States (#8, Fargo Rating: 647). Larson is not far behind her (Fargo Rating: 632) and competed in her first ESPN-televised match on the pro circuit in 2016.
In 2016, Donnie suffered the second of two strokes. This time, he was forced to re-learn how to walk. Miraculously, he made it up the stairs to his beloved billiard loft at Hard Times to a standing ovation from fellow leaguers. He was able to rebuild his game from the ground up. Later that year, APA President Renee Lyle recognized him with a Certificate of Appreciation for his outstanding commitment, loyalty, enthusiasm and efforts in support of the game.
In 2017, Donnie left the APA to become an ambassador for BCA. A midnight conversation with NOVA BCA co-founder Eric S. Townsend turned a sour experience at an APA regional tournament into an exciting plan to upgrade league play throughout Northern Virginia. As of August 29 and 31, the room will have converted to BCAPL 8 Ball teams format. Plans include live streaming of matches plus an ambitious Mid-Atlantic regional tournament (hotel/casino TBD) supported by BCAPL parent Cue Sports International.
In 2018, Donnie became the first recipient of NOVA BCA’s Founder’s Circle award. He was honored with the iconic blue crystal for his outstanding work in recruiting.
In 2019, Donnie is set to receive a sportsmanship award at the inaugural event for the Northern Virginia Amateur Tour (NVAT) founded by fellow Founder’s Circle recipient Christopher Wilburn.
For BCAPL, Donnie acts as division rep for Hard Times and works with co-founder Eric S. Townsend to pitch new venues and recruit players.
Gwen Townsend (Founder's Circle member)
Gwen Townsend began shooting pool at Richland Lanes (a bowling alley) in her hometown of Johnstown PA. She later switched to playing tournaments at M.T. Pockets, which became Mully’s Billiards. One day, Allison Fisher (Fargo 720, from NC) visited for a fundraising event. Gwen (then just 20) signed up for an exhibition rack against the BCA Hall of Famer — and beat her. She has a signed cue ball to show for it.
At college, Gwen bartered table maintenance for practice time at Babe’s Billiards near American University (Washington DC). She later became hostess and booked the tables for patrons. She also frequented and fared well in a competitive weeknight tournament at Atomic Billiards (Washington DC).
In 2002, Gwen joined the APA and quickly rose to their highest attainable handicap (7) in 8 Ball. She won several team championships across three rooms: Buffalo Billiards – Washington DC, Champions Billiards – Arlington VA, Carpool – Arlington VA.
In 2004, Gwen finished second in points on the Planet Pool Tour (behind only Malea Hacke). Her results were as follows: First Place (2x), Second Place (3x), 3rd Place (2x), 4th Place (1x), 5th Place (1x).
In 2006, Gwen left the APA and began to shoot the Thursday night tournament at First Break in Sterling VA. She competed against the likes of Brandon Shuff, Mike Davis, Matt Clatterbuck and others.
In 2009, after taking a break from pool since 2007, she joined the new NOVA BCAPL division co-founded by her husband Eric S. Townsend and Brian Cheung. In the format, Gwen has achieved a player average of 8 (a.k.a 42) and a Fargo Rating of 538.
In 2013, Gwen used a bonus she earned at work for completing her CPA to attend Allison Fisher’s pool academy in Charlotte, NC. As an result, she changed her stance to that of a snooker player and added a pause to her stroke.
In 2014, Gwen finished in 3rd Place in the Women’s Open 9 Ball Singles event and 25th in 8 Teams Open Division at BCAPL Nationals. This included a courageous victory over Top 10 U.S. Women’s player Taylor Hansen (Fargo 647, from MN) before falling in two sets to the eventual winner Kelly Issac (Fargo 576, from OH). She and Eric also finished in the top 75 pairs in the 8 Ball Scotch Doubles event. She was also the first woman to advance to a regional event in American Rotation (as the #1 seed) for the American Billiard Club.
In 2016, Gwen joined Team Ridonk (along with Eric) and took 9th Place at BCAPL Nationals in the Mixed Teams 8 Ball event (2,750 points division). They were eliminated in brutal fashion, falling 13-12 after reaching the hill first at 12-10. Their opponents went on to claim 2nd Place in the event.
In 2017, Gwen returned as a regular player on the regional tournament scene. She is currently among the top 5 women in points on the Action Pool Tour. She eliminated barbox killer Shayne Morrow (Fargo 705, from PA) from the Super Billiard Expo Open 9 Ball Singles event. She competed against BCA Hall of Famer Loree Jon Hasson (Fargo 647, from GA) in the Women’s 9 Ball Singles event, taking a tough 7-3 loss. Hassan went on to win the event. She competed against BCA Hall of Famer Karen Corr (Fargo 732, from PA) in Stop #4 of J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), losing 7-5. It was a highly entertaining, back-and-forth battle (see video of the match under the Accolades tab). At the 2017 BCAPL Nationals, Gwen placed 13th in the Platinum Women’s 9 Ball Singles event.
In 2018, Gwen became the second recipient of NOVA BCA’s Founder’s Circle award. She was honored with the iconic blue crystal for her faithful work in statkeeping and recruiting. In April, she finished in 5th Place in the Women’s Amateur 9Ball event at Super Billiards Expo (Oaks PA). At the BCA World Championships from the Rio (Las Vegas), Gwen partnered with Mosconi Cup MVP Skyler Woodward to take down a Pro-Am Scotch Doubles title in 8Ball. The event was streamed internationally, with two of the matches featured on our home page. She then finished 5th and 17th respectively in the Women’s Platinum 9Ball and 8Ball singles events. She closed the two weeks by competing with Ridonk in team 8 Ball (Fargo 2,750 division) and finishing in 13th Place.
For BCAPL, Gwen manages the league’s stats and acts as an ambassador for new players.
Chris Wilburn (Founder's Circle member)
In 2016, Chris’s improved play led to a 6th Place overall finish on the Action Pool Tour (APT) year-end points list. A team player, he also contributed to the stream team for the tour.
In 2017, Chris produced an even stronger finish on the Action Pool Tour (APT). This time, he finished in 2nd Place overall. His distinguished play earned sponsorships from Baltimore City Cues, Breakers (Herndon VA), and Rayman’s Pro Shop (Richmond VA). He continued his work for the APT, but also organized minis at Super Billiards Expo (a.k.a. Valley Forge, Rally in the Valley PA). Late in the year, he founded the innovative Nova Action (along with his brother, Scott) to stream head-to-head matches on Facebook between amateurs looking to advance a local top 10 list.
In 2018, Chris competed in half of the APT’s events but still finished a respectable 20th Place on the annual points list. His Nova Action stream grew to over 1,000 subscribers on Facebook (currently 1,393). He became the sixth recipient of NOVA BCA’s Founder’s Circle award. He was honored with the iconic blue crystal for his stellar work in promoting the game.
In 2019, Chris launched the Northern Virginia Amateur Tour. NVAT’s mission is to attract more amateur pool players to tournament play and to promote camaraderie. To underscore the latter, a sportsmanship award will be named by player vote at each event, with the first going to NOVA BCA’s Donnie Rogan (a fellow Founder’s Circle recipient) for his long-time support of pool in the Northern Virginia area.
“We’ve made some interesting decisions with NVAT, and we’ve done it with direct input from the players,” shared Wilburn. “For example, a Facebook poll revealed a majority interest in restricting entry to players rated 650 Fargo or lower. We even polled players for what game they wanted. 62% chose 10 Ball for the inaugural event.”
NVAT is set to hit five of the top pool venues in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Events will be modified double-elimination, with points awarded for results. An invite-only finale will feature the top 16 players by points. Each event will include a full calcutta and a free entry awarded via stream.
"Founder's Circle" Recipients
Thomas Park, recruiting
Gwen Townsend, statistics/recruiting
Meg Ann Imig, division representation
Benjamin Partridge, promoting the game
Chris Wilburn, promoting the game