"Being part of the BEF has given me the opportunity to play all over the world. It has also allowed me to meet some really great friends over the past years and given me the chance to earn scholarship money for college. I am glad to be a part of the BEF."
Briana Miller (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
“The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) Academic Scholarship Program is an annual program administered by the BEF Scholarship Committee, under the direction and guidance of the BEF Board of Trustees. The objective is to grant scholarships to high school seniors who have benefited from the sport of billiards and are entering their first year of college.
Through the generosity of our donors and sponsors, we have a variety of scholarship opportunities this year for additional grade levels, not just high school seniors."
Samm, how long have you been playing pool?
Seriously? Since I was in my mid-20's. I started late. But I've been bangin' balls since I was a teenager.
Then, how did you get started in pool?
Playing in leagues.
Who are your mentors?
Jeanette Lee (for many reasons), and my husband.
What is your pool nickname and where did it come from?
"Cherry Bomb" - from my explosive break!
What is your greatest professional accomplishment throughout your years of playing?
I’m a 4-time national league champion, 3 wins on the AWBT!
Awesome! So, for you what is it that keeps your love of this sport alive?
The endless possibilities.
You spend a lot of time training young players, do you have a favorite professional player?
Ralf Souquet has always been one of my favorites.
Tell us about a typical day for you.
HAHA - Get up. Feed my kids (age 2 & 4). Run the older one to school. Come back to my desk. I'm on a phone a lot, answering questions or trying to raise funds or organize youth programs and events. Make dinner. Family time.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In a perfect world, I'd love to see the BEF generating enough revenue that I could actually hire someone to help me. I'd still be plugging away, doing what I love to do.
Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?
Go ahead. Make your day.
For those who may not know, what is the BEF? When did it start?
Billiard Education Foundation. It started under the Billiard Congress of America as the Junior Nationals and a way to pull the industry together to award academic scholarships to student-athletes.
How long have you been with this non-profit organization?
I was appointed by the board in 2012.
What is your role?
I'm the Executive Director.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working directly with the players and family members, hearing their stories and changing lives.
What are your personal goals and BEF goals?
I'd love to get to the point where the BEF is self-sustaining and I can actually have a paid staff or start paying my volunteers. They are AMAZING! Junior Nationals could NOT happen without them!
What would you say to those kids who might be interested in playing pool?
School before pool. This year, 60% of our field were awarded with the AAA (Academic All-American) award for having a 3.5 GPA or higher. It's hard to know which came first, the chicken or the egg but I believe there's a correlation for sure. You should never give up one for the other.
Do you think it’s important for a pool player to own all their own equipment?
Absolutely. It's a must if you want to get serious. You need consistent equipment that you can count on.
How would one play with the BEF, are there tryouts? What is the cost needed to play?
The BEF only produces one event each year and it's our Junior National 9-Ball Championships. Each year we qualify student-athletes for this event through the Junior State Championships throughout the country. We finished this year with 40 state championships and 260 players qualified. Resulting in our largest field in the history of the event, 196 players at Junior Nationals. Entry fee for the state championships vary from state to state, but if you win the event, then you receive paid entry. If you don't earn a paid spot to nationals then it's around $80 entry.
How can a player get a scholarship to play in college? Or is the scholarship just for academics?
Playing in college is through the ACUI and depends on the college itself as to whether or not the program is available. The academic scholarship dollars we award annually are for our division winners at junior nationals and also for the essay winners.
Do they make money doing this or is it free products?
We do not pay cash to winners of our junior nationals, only sponsored prizes and academic scholarships.
What advice would you give to the BEF players?
Which players from BEF have gone on to play professionally?
Sarah Rousey, Charlie Williams, Shawn Wilkie, John Morra, Corey Deuel, Matt Craw. I know there are more but those are the ones that come to mind.
What is one of the single most important qualities for a pool player to have?
Patience. Hands down.
Do you own a Delta-13 rack?
Of course! Several.
Why would you say the Elite (or Select) rack is a superior product?
If used with Aramith balls, you always get the best rack with the least amount of effort.