No silver-tipped darts. No tattoos or coloured hair. No swagger.
Unlike the professional Euro players who rate rock-star treatment, Dalton Desmarais is not your flashy champion. He just wins a lot, doesn’t say much and sips on a Coors Light or two while throwing darts like he’s a polished pro.
The 24-year-old is a third-year plumber apprentice and he often watches the English leagues on TV.
“I would like to play pro and work for myself: I’d like to play the best,” said the soft-spoken Desmarais.
He ruled the ANAF (Army, Navy, Air Force) provincials in Vernon last weekend, going 20-0 in the 11-team event. Desmarais was joined by Wayne Morrison, Richard Mackie and Glen Sochan.
He placed second in singles at the B.C. Trials in Surrey, throwing 140 games in one late February weekend. He tossed 16 180s and won 100 games. That finish qualified Desmarais for the nationals starting June 8 in Drummondville, Que. The nationals are four days followed by the Canadian Open for another three.
The highest score possible with three darts is 180, commonly known as a “ton 80” (100 points is called a ton), obtained when all three darts land in the triple 20. On the televised English games, the referee frequently announces a score of 180 like a Spanish soccer ref screaming “Gooooaaalll”
Desmarais is so popular in the Vernon Pubmasters League, and around the ANAF, where he often hits the practice board with his wife, Kala, that there is a fundraiser this Saturday at ANAF to help cover travel costs to Quebec.
League statistician Sheri Morrell (250-938-1428) and vice-president Tannis Jones (250-306-7740) are collecting silent auction item donations for the Dixie Dart event which starts at 9:30 a.m.
“He is genuinely a nice guy, win or lose,” said Morrell. “I don’t know a single person that doesn’t like him. When we first brought up the idea of this fundraiser to the dart community, we had great support. Everyone wants to help him.”
Desmarais threw his first dart at age two and has been hooked ever since. He has a standard hard throw and picks up intensity in tournament play with more on the line.
“I was a natural when I was really young and I fell in love with it right away. I couldn’t stop. My parents attached flights to the darts and I would play downstairs. My parents told me that one Christmas I wouldn’t go for dinner because I wanted to keep playing.”
He has one set of darts from his grandfather, who used to own a billiards and darts shop in Medicine Hat.
He says his wife “has a pretty natural throw” as well. He plays with Kala in the Pubmasters League with the Predators alongside teammates Howie Sparrow, Henry Schultz and John Correira.
“This is my fourth year in the Pub league and it’s a lot of fun,” said Dalton. “The majority are good people but you get a few sour apples.”
Kala is having a blast improving her game alongside Dalton.
“I can count on one hand how many times I have beaten him,” laughed Kala, who took the sport up four years ago. “He helps me practise; you learn from the best.”
Sparrow says Dalton is the guy you want throwing for your team when playing for the bar tab.
Dalton was at the Greater Vancouver Open a few weeks ago with he and Carl Jesson of Kelowna banking $300 for a top-four finish in doubles. Dalton’s headed to the Rodeo City Open on the May long weekend in Calgary.
He’s on Team B.C. for the second straight year and has won multiple singles crowns at various competitions. He and Stu Fields took the doubles title at a cash shoot in Penticton earlier this season. Desmarais lost in the singles final.
Team B.C. tied for third at nationals two years ago in Richmond after being seeded fourth. Desmarais tied for third at the national open the same year, also registering a top-10 doubles placing with Lindsay Ritchie.
His folks, Kevin and Kathy Desmarais, also play competitive darts. Dalton also took shotokan karate in his younger years, getting close to a black belt.
The fundraiser will see patrons paying $5 to have a national player as their partner and the same price to face a national thrower. Soup and sandwiches for $6 will be provided by the ladies auxiliary.