My name is Michael (Mike) Collier and I live in Sacramento, California. I am from the U.K. and I moved to the United States in 2018 to live with my husband, who is currently finishing his PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis. I was born in London but grew up in the city of Brighton and Hove in Sussex in the south of England, and this is when I first started playing snooker. I first picked up a cue in 1998 when I joined the Frank Sandell Coaching School in Worthing, West Sussex, where I was mentored and coached by Frank Sandell. Frank had many years of experience coaching younger players in the Sussex area. At the coaching school we played once a week in a mini league, and every month there would be a bigger tournament where I competed against older, better players. Frank introduced me to the basics of how to play snooker, the etiquette of the game and also the mental side of the game. I grew up fast and became a stronger player by working my way up through the coaching school with Frank’s guidance. I owe a lot to Frank for his support and his guidance over the years, and we have now become good friends. Frank is also the best in the business at re-tipping cues!
As my game grew stronger and I became more confident, I started playing in some local leagues in the towns of Worthing, Horsham and the City of Brighton and Hove. This was a step up for me from playing other junior players to playing experienced adult players, but this helped my game a lot and I gained a lot of experience. As I always say, you learn more from your losses than your victories. The standard of play in the Brighton and Hove league was particularly high, with around fifty players capable of making a century break. I also started to play in some regional and county competitions. At the age of 15 I won the West Sussex County Handicap Championships and, in doing so, became the youngest player to win a West Sussex county event. During this same period I managed to make my first century break and was going from strength to strength.
As I got older I started to play in national events in England hosted and run by the EASB (English Association of Snooker and Billiards). I competed in the English Amateur Championships and the Q School, and my best result was reaching the last 32 of the English Amateur Championships on one occasion. I also regularly played at the Pontins Festival of Snooker in Prestatyn, Wales, where there was an abundance of players from all areas of the U.K. It was a tough competition due to the high standard of play. During my times entering into the snooker festivals I was lucky enough to play many current and former professional players, including Nigel Bond, Andrew Norman, Gary Wilson, Kuldesh Johal, David Grace, Sean O’Sullivan and Jamie Cope. I unfortunately didn’t beat any of them, but my closest results were 4-3 to Andrew Norman, 3-2 to Nigel Bond, 2-1 to David Grace and 2-1 to Gary Wilson. My best result at the festivals was when I reached the semifinals of the plate competition in 2008. Many other players called me “granite” as I had developed a mentality that I was a hard player to beat.
A few years further on in my life I started a new career as a flight attendant, which meant I wasn’t able to practice as much as I wanted and my game wasn’t as sharp as it had been. I still played regularly in local competitions, but I no longer had the time to play in national events in England. I was lucky enough to play Jimmy Robertson in the last 16 of the East Sussex Open, where I lost 3-2 after Jimmy made a century break in the deciding frame to win. I managed to win the Brighton and Hove Da Costa Open in 2017, one of my best achievements considering the standard of players in this league.
My life changed drastically when in 2018 I decided to move to the United States to live with my husband. After I moved to the United States I managed to find a snooker club locally in the city of San Jose, which is south of the San Francisco Bay. This club is called California Snooker and has become my home club. Here I met many local players and players of many different backgrounds. I met Ajeya Prabhakar who introduced me to the United States Snooker Association and the tournaments available for players in the USA. He also informed me of a new association which had been created called the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA), which would hold an inaugural Championships in 2019 in Houston, Texas. I entered the championships unsure of what to expect, but I went in with full enthusiasm. I was pleased with my efforts in reaching the quarter finals, where I lost 4-2 to John White of Canada. I played well and and met many skilled players at the event from other areas of the Pan American region which was exciting. The following year I was keen to get involved with PABSA and was offered the role of Chief Media Officer, which is a very exciting role to have. I am pleased and honored to be able to help the games of snooker and billiards grow in both the United States and the Pan American region, now and in the future.