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College dreams come true for three Phuket athletes

PHUKET: The dream of playing College sport in the US is about to become a reality for three hard-working athletes at the British International School, Phuket (BISP).

By The Phuket News

Sunday 7 April 2019, 12:00PM

Year 13 students Fann Rui Nicholle Toh (Swimming), Sam McInnes (Triathlon) and William Valtos III (Football) have all received athletic scholarships to American universities and will begin their studies next academic year.

US athletic recruitment at the university level is highly competitive. Only certain sports have athletic scholarships available and candidates must also meet the academic requirements of an athletic association to be eligible. Almost all universities have scholarship programmes, most of which are open to applications from international students.

Singaporean butterfly specialist Fann Rui Nicholle Toh, a scholar at BISP since year 10, started the application process last year. After creating a profile on – which ranks applicants based on their swim times – Toh was fortunate enough to receive a number of offers from various colleges. After careful consideration, she decided to accept a full scholarship at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque – a National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division 1 college.

I feel comfortable and confident that the environment and support given by the experienced swim coaches there will be able to help me excel to a greater level,” says Toh. “The climate in Albuquerque is also less harsh compared to other states, plus it’s on high attitude which makes it ideal for training. I also have friends there who I have trained with and competed against, which should make my transition into college an easier one.”

Scottish junior triathlon champion, Sam McInnes, joined BISP in year 12. As triathlon is a relatively new college sport in the US, McInnes was initially unsure about setting her sights on America. But after a brief visit to Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina in December, McInnes signed with the university due to its recognised triathlon programme and well-regarded coach.

My coach at BISP already knew the Queens coach, so was able to recommend me which I am sure was useful. There are 40 male and female triathletes in the programme, all of whom are at a high level. Queens is also the second top triathlon university in the country,” she says.

McInnes says her International Baccalaureate points earned at BISP will stand her in good stead for her first year of study. In her second year, she hopes to specialise in Art or International Business.

BISP Senior boys football captain, William Valtos III, used to dream of playing professional football as a young boy growing up in the Philippines. While on scholarship at BISP, Valtos has had the opportunity to play football at several talent identification camps in the US to get noticed. His talent and dedication have now earned him a place at Wake Forest University, also in North Carolina, which is ranked first in the NCAA Division 1 competition. Wake Forest is also academically competitive, which has required Valtos to maintain a high level of academic success while at BISP.

Valtos says he is looking forward to having the opportunity to play at a high level with some of the best players in college football.

The Cruzeiro academy at BISP has definitely helped me mature and improve my tactical understanding of the game, making me more adaptable to different playing styles, such as the style in the US.”

British International School, Phuket has sports academies in Swimming, Triathlon, Football, Golf and Tennis. The school’s Athletics Director, Jeff Lamantia says, “Seeing some of our top athletes earn sporting scholarships to the US is proof that our academies really are providing a pathway to continued sporting success and participation. If our athletes want to try to forge careers through the US College system, then they can receive letters of reference from our academy coaches as well as application assistance from the school’s careers councillors.”

-Lee Blake



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