Currently ranked #8, as reflected in the ADO’s most recent ranking list, thirty-six year old Kim LeDuc not only travels the United States with her significant other, Jim Widmayer (himself ranked #6 in the men’s national list), but also balances her career as an occupational therapist, where she specializes in pediatrics and in school aged children with a variety of disabilities, including: autism and basic learning delays. As a self employed contractor in a Special Ed school as well as seeing kids for home therapy, she takes pride in knowing that her job is to make these children as independent as possible regardless of their disabilities.
Making her way from St. Clair Shores Michigan, a coastal resort community in the Detroit metro area, to her current home in Westchester, New York eleven years ago for her career, and not knowing anyone in the area at the time, she walked down to the nearest pub, the Riverdale Steakhouse, located in the Bronx, and joined a dart league, starting out in the Silver division (equivalent to a B level team), where she was content to play league for six years. That is until the well known and top New York City shooter, Jamie Donovan took her to her first tournament, and the addiction was born.
Shooting league in an A-2 division, out of her favorite Manhattan bar, Flannery’s, on an all female team appropriately named Femme Fatale and using a Perrigo Scalloped 24 gram dart, Kim currently plays league three nights a week, and admits that practicing at home is not really for her. Given her league play (always showing up at least an hour early for some good warm up), her participation in local Luck of the Draws a couple of times a month, and her weekend tournaments, she feels that this amount of play is more than enough to keep her sharp.
As with many dart players, whether amateur or pro, nicknames always seem to be acquired through friends, reputation, or in some cases a players own indulgence in them selves may lead to a self appointed name of their own choosing. In Kim’s case she has acquired two nicknames given to her by her friends, the first being Kimbo Slice, after the Martial Arts/Street Fighter, and Ultimate fighter with the same name; and the second Kim Possible, which she understands came from a Disney cartoon.
Kim’s favorite tournament is the Las Vegas Open, noting that as a close second, she very much enjoys the Ghost on Coast event in Myrtle Beach. Interestingly enough her proudest moment to date doesn’t come out of either of those events. The moment for her actually comes out this year’s Virginia Beach Dart Classic, where she took down the ADO’s formidable Stacy Bromberg in the semi finals, losing out to another ADO dynamo Marilyn Popp in the fifth and deciding leg for the match.
It is understood all to well that these defeats are all part of the game, and in discussing how she gets over a major loss, she simply says that she usually isn’t upset if she’s played well, as in the case of the match with Marilyn, however, she notes that if she’s played badly, and is disappointed with herself, she may warm up more before the next event and just tries to re-focus, or will go to her hotel room for a short break and watch TV just to get away for a bit.
All dart players normally have one aspect of the game that leaves a specific personal challenge to be addressed and overcome to improve the quality of ones game. For Kim, this frustration comes in the form of mathematics. She believes that if her skills to calculate a bit faster can be achieved, she will have a greater flow to her game in its entirety, resulting in nabbing a few more matches that may be lost due to hesitation.
Currently Kim does not have a financial sponsor, however, on her recent trip abroad to play in the Winmau World Masters, Kim gives full appreciation to Flannery’s Bar, the New York Dart Organization (NYDO), and the Professional Development Singles League (PDSL NYC) which is a money league, for their contributions and support.
With the Masters being her first time heading overseas, she was fortunate enough that when the paperwork deadline was due for the event, she was sitting at number three in the ADO ranking, which gave her an automatic invite. Although excited and honored to participate, as well as having a great time, she was let down when she discovered that the ladies event wasn’t to be televised, and she found that a separated venue from the men, who were a couple of blocks down the road, took away a small piece of her experience. Fortunately friends and fellow Americans Cali West, Andrea Taylor, Brenda Roush and Debbie Ivey, along with Robin Curry, top female darter from our North American sister country of Canada, were there to bridge the gap standing together in support of one another. Luck in scheduling also gave a helping hand so that she had the ability to watch some of Jim W’s matches, and he too could be there to lend support to her when she was at line.
With her first day of play only reaching an average level, she spent a great deal more time on her second day warming up, and obtaining a focus, winning her first and third legs with strong finishes on her doubles. Unfortunately relinquishing the win to her competitor Sharon Prins of the Netherlands, but ultimately thrilled with her play, it turned her experience from one of mixed emotions, to one that she will fondly remember.
Giving back to a game that inspires so much in the players is really part of the game darts, and with Kim’s career in working with children, it’s no wonder that her area to give back would be the kids. Kim enjoys watching the Youth events, and will get up early to support this event, she has also been involved in raising money for a few of the traveling youths, and as time allows will continue to focus efforts in this area.
Not being able to survive a tournament without her beloved Michelob Light, her minimum two inch heels, and her troop of girls for give and take support, Kim LeDuc is a player with heart, and it’s not just her competitive side that draws her into the game, it’s meeting all the fantastic people and all the laughs along the way. She says, “That’s why I did all this. I never thought I had a shot in hell to get into the top 10. I make the most of every tournament I go to, and just have a great time.”
Where does Kim think she’ll be with darts in five years? She’s not 100% sure, and there are never guarantees in making these kinds of predictions, however, she thinks that keeping up her current league and tournament pace could lead to burn out, and believes in five years that she’ll still be playing league one to two nights a week, and possibly will participate in five to six tournaments a year. Her long term goal is to have a family, and as all lady dart players know, juggling work, family and darts can be a challenge.
In the meantime, Kim will enjoy her success, friends, and darts, and will simply strive to be the best that she can be for as long as it lasts.
By Tina Digregorio
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