By Mark Ambrogi
One look was all it took for Matthew Webber to get hooked.
“One day my dad showed me a video of Florian Kohler doing trick shots,” the Fishers High School freshman said.
Webber, 14, quickly began practicing his trick shots and kept getting better. Then he got a huge break when Kohler, nicknamed Venom, shared one of Webber’s videos on Facebook and it went viral this summer. It got more than 85 million views on Facebook.
Webber’s trick shots were shown on ESPN and MTV. He has been featured in USA Today, GQ and Esquire.
Webber said he started “practicing like crazy” after the video got so much exposure.
“I started to realize this is something I could do in the future,” Webber said. “There are a couple of people (trick shot players) who say they can’t even do some of the stuff I do. I still have all these years of practicing and learning even more. Of course, I plan go to college and get an education. But if school doesn’t work out, I have something to fall back on.”
Webber, nicknamed The Stinger, was featured on “The Steve Harvey Show” in late October.
Webber’s father Jesse was a semi-professional eight-ball and nine-ball pool player, but he had never done trick shots. Webber started playing artistic billiards about a year ago. His father previously had taught him how play eight-ball and nine-ball.
“It was winter and I was inside a lot and I was bored,” Webber said of mastering trick shots. “I started posting them online and people started liking them.”
He was flown to Germany to appear on “Superkids” on German TV in August.
“It was similar to ‘America’s Got Talent,’ with a full audience and a bunch of other kids,” Jesse said. “(‘Superkids’ producers) reached out to us recently and there is a chance he’s going to be on other shows in other countries.”
Webber turned down an offer from “America’s Got Talent.”
“Each shot you are slowly setting it up and it’s live,” Webber said. “There are people throwing knives at apples and stuff like that. So I thought it doesn’t really fit.”
Webber recently taped an appearance for an NBC variety show, co-produced by Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres, with Harvey as the host. The date for the show’s debut has yet to be released but it slated to be called “Little Big Shots.”
Webber has sponsorships from Jacoby Custom Cues, Marty Carey Jump Q for custom-made carbon fiber cues, Grind’N Clothing Company and World Artistic Billiards Association.
“I didn’t expect that he would get this good this fast,” Jesse said. “He loves it. We tell him to stay humble and keep your grades up. Fishers High School has been very accommodating. He went viral internationally before he went viral locally. Help from all the professional players is nice. They keep encouraging him to press forward.”
Jesse said his son is starting to make money from his appearances.
“He did a couple of American Poolplayers Association shows in Bloomington and Ft. Wayne, where they paid him to perform,” Jesse said. “A world-ranked player came down from Michigan to meet Matthew and perform with him. He came back to the house and they played pool until 3:30 in the morning.”
Webber said he has tried more than 200 different trick shots, and has 500 more ideas.
“He keeps getting more and more creative,” Jesse said. “(Recently) he’s came up with some new shots that are just impressing the pool community.”
After finishing homework, Webber practices one or two hours a night during the week and usually three to four hours a day on the weekend.
About Matthew Webber
Age: Turns 15 on Feb. 22.
Personal: Has older brother, Steven, 19, and younger brother, Nicholas, 7. Steven helps makes videos of his brother’s trick shots. Mother’s name is Gizelle. Has Irish Setter named Amy. The 4-foot-10 Webber played soccer when he was younger. He also plays the drums.
Best class: Algebra.
Favorite TV show: “The Office.”
Facebook page under Matthew “The Stinger” Webber. YouTube site is Stinger Trick Shots. Instagram is Stinger_Trick