Sporting Excellence Scholar: Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls

Name: Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls

Sport: Pool

Course: MSc Psychology

Ultimate goal: World Championships

Sophie’s passion for pool led to her winning the British University Colleges and Sport (BUCS) - UPC Women’s Pool Championships 2014 and 2015 and she has qualified for England women’s team in 2015.

Born in London and raised in Devon since she was four, Sophie began playing pool at the age of 14 and has not looked back. Twenty seven year old Sophie has represented Devon County for nine years and taken responsibility of captain for the past two seasons, inspiring her to take her sport to the next level.

  “It was suggested to me that I trialled for the county team and ever since I have wanted to progress to playing in the England team. It was watching other players from my county team trial for England which inspired me to aim for the same, making it seem within reach.”

The Sporting Excellence Scholarship programme is allowing Sophie to follow her sporting dream, and the financial support will enable her to train regularly and receive specialist coaching.

Balancing her study and sport hasn't been easy, but she is confident in prioritising one or the other depending on upcoming events, assessments and deadlines.

The funding Sophie will receive will help her development in both in national and international competitions, and will enable her to focus on her studies by not having a part time job.

“My goal is to be retained in the England team and to perform at the Europeans in 2016, and then I’m hoping to qualify for the World Championship team. For my study, I will complete my MSc at Plymouth and become an accredited Sport Psychologist.”

Raising her sporting profile and gaining experience in her profession is another mission of Sophie’s, and through her Sporting Excellence Scholarship, the University will support her by creating student experience opportunities and sharing expertise.

Through connections on the Sporting Excellence Scholarship programme, Sophie has been given the opportunity to gain support and experience with the local professional sports teams through Associate Lecturer and Chartered Sports Psychologist, Jon Rhodes, who supports the programme.

 Sophie hopes to continue her BUCS success with the Plymouth University Pool Society and aims to attend BUCS again in February 2016.

“I have always felt very proud to represent my university, and I know that will continue while at Plymouth.”

And any words of advice for anyone who wishes to apply for the Sporting Excellence Scholarship programme?

 "Just do it, give as much information as possible about achievements and upcoming competitions and most importantly, show that you’re passionate about your sport and how the scholarship could help you to reach your goals within both sport and study.”