NDA: Garion, tell us a bit about yourself—where you grew up and live now…and your family. Besides work (and darts) any hobbies or interests?
GARION: I was born in Peoria, IL and now live in currently in Chililcothe, IL, about 18 miles north of Peoria. We moved here when I started high school and my parents and brother are here.
NDA: What do you do for work?
GARION: I’m a dart league coordinator with Accel Entertainment. The company had an opening for a service tech and after I interviewed with them, they decided to create a spot for me as a dart league coordinator. Lots of variety in the responsibilities of managing our leagues, from gathering and tracking stats, making sure the equipment in our locations is running well, communicating with organizations about upcoming events run by NDA, TOC and Bullshooter (Arachnid), visiting with location owners and bartenders about new ideas and of course, talking with players. One day I might be in Chicago, and the next day in Collinsville (nearly 300 miles south). I feel like I’ve lucked out, because darts has been my hobby and now, my job is to work on something I really enjoy.
NDA: How and when did you start playing darts?
GARION: My dad handed me some darts when I was three years old. He owned a bar. I quickly got hooked on the sport. Growing up, it was mainly playing with my Dad, and it was great just hanging and playing with him. My mom and dad both played darts. My dad still does. One night, he went to league, opened his dart case, and his darts weren’t in there. He had to come home and get them from me. But, that’s how I got my first real set of my own darts. He got me a duplicate set of his own, brass-barrelled, 15 gram darts.
I played a lot at home with Dad and always had good math skills because of darts. School wasn’t easy for me and in addition to helping me excel in math, darts also became an outlet for my frustrations.
Because I wasn’t allowed to go to bars when I was a minor, I didn’t start playing competitively until I was 21, when I joined a local, good old traveling league. My Dad had been playing with the same guys for about 15 years and told me he didn’t have a spot for me on his team. But it was probably the best thing that could have happened, because I quickly met people and learned different styles and strategies that helped me a lot as I started to play.
NDA: How often do you play now?
GARION: I still throw everyday, and play in four leagues, as well as a weekend tournament here and there. I’m a player first. That’s where my mind is.
I throw 50 darts minimum a day. I have a system where I’ll throw 50 bulls a day, then 25 trips, then 15 doubles, then 15 small segments and 15 big segments of each number. It takes me maybe 20-25 minutes. It’s about always working to get better. Nobody’s perfect and I’m constantly trying to pick up on tendencies and techniques that can improve my game.
NDA: As a player who is also a dart league coordinator, you have a unique perspective. What’s the main value that you, as a coordinator, bring to players?
GARION: Versatility. What we like to do is get input from players. While there are some out there in my position who are not hands-on or haven’t played the game, I really like talking to players, getting their feedback and providing them support. We have a lot of freedom to run our leagues and to try new things.
NDA: What’s the coolest thing you have gotten to experience as a dart player?
GARION: At NDA in Vegas, I played and lost to Chris Lim. What was coolest about it was the way he was about it, encouraging me. At TOC, I also got to play in a mixed doubles invite with Krissy Grimal. We finished fourth or fifth, but it was a really cool experience. And I think signing on as a sponsored player for Break for Darts and Velocity Darts was also one of the best.
NDA: What do you like most about darts?
GARION: Competitiveness. When I was younger, I played football, got hurt and contact sports were out. With darts, I get to continue to compete.
NDA: What advice would (or do) you give to new/novice dart players?
GARION: Be comfortable. The game is more than 90 percent mental. Work on the repetitive motion consistently. Keep the elbow up and quit thinking too much.
NDA: If you could pick one person you’d like to play a game of darts with, who would it be and why?
GARION: Eric Bristow (the late Crafty Cockney, who was a five time darts world champion). He was my favorite dart player to watch growing up. I patterned my game after him…the way he would stand off to the right. He helped Phil Taylor early in his career. Eric and guys back then were hard drinking, cigarette-smoking, cocky and huge personalities.
NDA: Assuming you have attended Team Dart, how many times have you competed in this event and how does it rate on the circuit of dart events you play in?
GARION: I’ve been to the Vegas event a couple of times and it is a fun, cool event for players.
NDA: Unfortunately, we had to cancel this year’s Team Dart. What are your thoughts on not being able to go to Vegas this month?
GARION: In the long run, it was right decision. Vegas is a worldwide destination and so is Team Dart. For the safety of players all over, it was the only option, unfortunately.
NDA: What have you been doing to get through these challenging times? What is your typical day like?
GARION: Staying home for so long has gotten boring, but I’ve been working on other things, like playing video games and when I’m outside, playing disc golf. My birthday was Monday—and it was fun to spend time with my one-year-old and three-year-old cousins. Last year, I was at NDA for my birthday and my friends dragged me out to celebrate.
NDA: What is your favorite…
…Movie: Harlem Nights
…Music or band: Seether and Slayer
…Food: Mexican food
…TV show: Doctor and mystery shows
…Thing to do in Vegas (besides playing darts!): People watching on Fremont Street and the Strip.
Published April 17, 2020