Congratulations to Lucy Cunningham who has been nominated by our staff as the very first “FirstPoint USA Athlete of the Month” for January 2012.
Lucy, who currently plays with Everton Ladies FC, has recently secured a Soccer scholarship to the University of Memphis, in Tennessee. Although, we regularly hear many success stories and have many outstanding athletes on our program, Lucy has been nominated by our staff as Athlete of the Month, for January.
“Lucy is a very talented right back, who is lightning quick. Her attack from the back is very dangerous and is a weapon for any team. Off the field, Lucy has always been a pleasure to work with. She has done everything we have asked of her with no problems and is always a pleasure to speak with. She is easy to get in contact with, and is eager to listen to all advice and guidance we support her with. She is very switched on about the process in America, and about what is expected of her. She is extremely driven and passionate about playing at a high level in the States and has now secured a scholarship to The University of Memphis. I have no doubt that Lucy will enjoy success throughout her time in the U.S. Good luck Lucy!”
-Nicole Montoya (Client Services, FirstPoint USA)
We caught up with Lucy to find out more about her and her scholarship to the University of Memphis:
“I have played football ever since I was little with my two older brothers and cousins, as we all lived on the same road. We would play every night after school. In school, I would play every break time with all the lads! When I was 12 I played for local side, Redgate Rovers until I was 15. I was scouted for Merseyside U16′s and at the same time got involved in Everton Centre of Excellence U16′s. The following season I moved up into the Reserves who I currently play for.”
“My goals out of attending The University of Memphis are: to become a better player, to fight for a regular spot in the team, to go on to play for my national team and potentially play for a professional team after I leave. I hope to enjoy it, meet amazing people and have a continued life in the States.”
“Lucy Cunningham played in the 2011 Showcase, and blew everyone away! She showed us all how talented she is and, even though she comes from such a high level, she is very down to earth. Lucy has been great to work with, and I wish her the best of luck for her time in the USA.”
- Kevin McCann (Sports Consultant, FirstPoint USA)
Lucy has certainly made an impression on all of our staff here at FirstPoint USA, at each stage in the program! Barry Neville from our Clearing department played a key role in promoting Lucy to universities in the States, and for matching her to her chosen University in the end.
“Lucy was very easy to work with from the moment she came onto the FirstPoint USA program. She showed a lot of hard work and dedication to complete her task lists very quickly, expediting the process. Any extra information we needed or tasks were also dealth with very quickly. We are delighted that Lucy has been able to secure a scholarship to such a prestigious University.”
Congratulations to Kerri McDonald who has been nominated by the FirstPoint USA staff as our Athlete of the Month for February 2012!
As a talented young athlete, Kerri was offered many opportunities in the United States, and visited several Universities including Michigan State University, Northwestern University and James Madison University – before she decided on attending the University of Richmond in Virginia.
The University of Richmond provides a collaborative learning and research environment, offering students an extraordinary combination of the liberal arts with law, business, leadership studies, and continuing education.
It is characterized by a distinctly integrated student experience—a rich and innovative life for students inside and outside the classroom—and a welcoming spirit that prizes diversity of experience and thought.
The University of Richmond also boasts excellent athletic facilities and sports programmes all at NCAA Division I level, except: Football (Division I-AA).
What is your sporting background?
I started playing hockey at the age of 8 for my local club, Dromore. I played for the U10 age group, before quickly making my first appearance for my province Ulster aged 12. Following this I played Senior League hockey from the age of 13 where I continued to develop through various different squads, and due to the wonderful coaches and the players around me. I earned my first Irish U16 cap when I was 15, playing against Belgium on home turf in 2009.
Since then I have moved club to play at a more competitive and higher standard and have gone on to achieve many of my dreams and aspirations. I have been lucky enough to have the privilege to represent Ireland on numerous occasions including winning an U16 Home Nations silver medal, U18 Home Nations gold medal and play in the European Championships, Holland 2011 where we finished a creditable 4th place.
Playing for my country is an honor, but another team close to my heart is my province Ulster. Over the last 6 years I have represented Ulster on several important occasions. These include winning 3 Interprovincial titles; a bronze, silver and gold UK School Games medal and captaining the U18 side in 2011.
A unique opportunity arose in 2010 for the Ireland U17 Squad to travel to Singapore to compete in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Having the opportunity to play sport at such a high standard and calibre is only one of the many attributes that the Games offered.
Despite spending many hours on the hockey field, I have been able to attribute some of my successes off the turf. Following UK School Games success in 2010, I was chosen as a UK Youth Ambassador for Sport as well as being chosen as the ‘Special Achievement Award’ Winner at my annual District Council Awards dinner last Summer.
What made you apply to FirstPoint USA?
Hockey is not seen as a highly professional sport, especially for girls. However I really wanted to fulfill my potential while continuing with my education as I feel it is really important. After thinking of what Universities I wanted to apply to in the UK I began to be more confident about the chance to go away and America played on my mind. I did some independent research on the internet and came across FirstPoint USA. After applying on the website I was shocked to received such a quick response from the company and ever since, I haven’t looked back!
What made you chose the University of Richmond?
It is very overwhelming having many different colleges contact you and choosing a University isn’t easy! Especially when it’s in a different country!! I managed to narrow my choices down to 4 colleges that were all so different and I then was lucky enough to go and visit them all over half term. While competing at a local competition over Winter, I was approached by the Assistant coach at the University of Richmond who is actually from Northern Ireland and doesn’t live far from me. I then considered it as one of my options and was extremely impressed by the college. I currently have a former Irish team mate who is there on a scholarship and coincidentally another Ulster and Irish team mate will join me in my freshman year.
Despite these local links and friendships I chose Richmond for several other reasons. Not only was the campus stunning, safe and sunny, but the Coach and other field hockey players really made me feel welcome and part of the team despite only spending 2 days there!
After signing to the University of Richmond I was touched to receive so many messages and texts from the Richmond girls, expressing their excitement of my decision to become a Spider next semester!
What do you hope to achieve through your time there?
I hope to achieve a first class education while competing in an outstanding hockey programme. I also hope to accomplish many personal goals and aims while attaining life skills and experience that I aren’t readily accessible in the UK.
Were you pleased with the offers you were made?
I couldn’t have been more pleased with the amount of emails I received from enthused coaches all across America. Choosing a college was difficult, especially when it came down to 2 colleges where I could really see myself fitting in. Northwestern University, Chicago was an incredible college that really had a lot to offer. Currently rated as the 26th best university in the world is nothing short from what it has to offer. I could not have asked any more of the field hockey coaching staff and the facilities. It’s a truly great school!
However, when it came down to my final decision, my heart told me that the University of Richmond was the right place for me!! It has the perfect location, beautiful campus and most importantly the people are so friendly and genuine!
Would you recommend FirstPoint USA to others?
Of course! I wouldn’t have known about any of these opportunities if it wasn’t for FirstPoint USA.
What advice would you have for anyone who is considering joining the program?
Go for it!! Follow your dreams and aspirations. Some Universities in the UK are great but they are nothing in comparison to what the USA has to offer, especially as you will learn so many skills and create so many memories that will stick with you for the rest of your life. If there’s one thing I fear it would be looking back on this opportunity with regret if I didn’t grasp it with two hands.
For some sports, unfortunately there isn’t enough opportunities to fulfill your potential, but the sky’s the limit! If you don’t take the chance to reach your goals you’re the only one to blame. – DON’T LOOK BACK!!
“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.”
Testimonial from Nicola Pitticas, FirstPoint USA
Kerri has been an exciting prospect for our program. She has come from a strong sporting background and is an excellent student.
From the moment she stepped on the pitch she was keen to impress and work hard. It has been an absolute pleasure working with her and her family, a big thank you has to go to them for being patient and efficient as well as a big thank you to John Paul Boyle, her clearing consultant, who was in charge of her promotion. We all agree that the University of Richmond is an outstanding academic institution and her scholarship offer even better.
Every month, our team get together and select a candidate for our FirstPoint USA “Athlete of the Month”. This is always a tough decision, with so many fantastic nominations there is always a bit of debate about the outcome.
Our staff have come to the conclusion that the Athlete of the Month for March 2012 should be awarded to soccer client, Colin Okirie! Well done to you Colin!
Colin has secured a fantastic scholarship to the University of California State, Fullerton through FirstPoint USA. We caught up with Colin to find out more about his background and how he feels about going out to the States :
What is your sporting background?
I started to play football from the age of 9 at my local club Khalsa Football club. I really enjoyed my time there and I am very grateful for all the support I have received from all of the managers and my team mates.
Ever since I started playing for Khalsa I then became obsessed with football… I played every day without fail in at the park near my house and at the corner shops where there was light in the winter! haha. From Khalsa I then moved to Coventry City where I spent 3 years. It was a good experience to be involved in a professional academy and I learned a lot from my time there. From there I Have played for Stratford town and Warwick Racing club which is my current team.
What made you apply to FirstPoint USA?
A few of my friends have gone through FirstPoint USA, so when it came time to make a decision on my future… it wasn’t a hard choice for me and my family to make! I wanted to continue to be involved with football at a high level but was not prepared to abandon my education
What made you chose the University of California State University, Fullerton?
I had some contact from other Universities but when Cal state got into contact with me, I could just see myself fitting in really well. From my conversations with the head coach, Bob Almond – he really sold the place to me and my family. After taking everything into consideration, my family and I agreed that the best decision for me would be to attend Cal state. I am very pleased with the decision, I cannot wait!
I hope to achieve a degree and a once in a lifetime experience in an extraordinary place. After my time at Cal state I want to play professional football!
Were you pleased with the offers you were made?
I was very flattered an overwhelmed with the interest I received so yes I was pleased and thanked all of the colleges that took time to get in contact with me.
Would you recommend FirstPoint USA to others?
Most definitely!! The staff were great and were hugely helpful and I am appreciative. The company is run very well and everything went smoothly and efficiently which I am happy about. I don’t even want to think about how difficult the process would have been with the guys to help me and my family.
What advice would you have for anyone who is considering joining the program?
If you want to carry on playing your favourite sport at a high level but do not want to give up a university education this is the way to go! You have to really want it and be willing to put the work in! Try your best and I’m sure you will get what you want out of it and will be as happy as I am…. Good luck
Testimonial from Colin’s FirstPoint USA Sports Consultant, Kevin McCann
“Colin Okirie has been really good to work with. A very good example of someone who came onto the program quite late in the year, but had the right attitude to get through his checklist in great time. He also strived to attend as many client games as possible as early as possible which made his footage turnaround very quick in comparison to a lot of others. Good support from his family from the off, he is a very likeable guy who approached the program with a positive mindset and chipped in with a good bit of banter.”
Kevin also revealed some of his nicknames for Colin :
Coldroun of Fire
Colza Da Housecat
California State University, Fullerton is a regional university located in Orange County, a technologically rich and culturally vibrant area of metropolitan Los Angeles, and was ranked No. 33 in all regional universities in the West by the U.S News in their 2012 rankings.
California State University, Fullerton‘s academic departments and programs are organized into 8 colleges:
- College of the Arts
- Steven G. Mihaylo College of Business and Economics
- College of Communications
- College of Education
- College of Engineering and Computer Science
- College of Health and Human Development
- College of Humanities and Social Sciences
- College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Every month, the FirstPoint USA staff get together to nominate their “Athlete of the Month”. It is always a hard decision, with so many talented young athletes on our books!
Controversially, this month – our “Athlete of Month” title has been given to not one, but TWO of our clients….
Having worked closely with both lads over the months, we have realised that these guys come as a pair! Having met through FirstPoint USA, and gone through the process (client games, showcase games and scholarship offers) together – they have become good friends. It is great to see that along with achieving great scholarships, these boys have become close and will benefit from sharing the experience together.
We caught up with both boys to find out their thoughts about FirstPoint USA, the scholarship process and how they feel about moving to the USA! :
Sporting Background: My sporting background is that I started taking football seriously when I was about 14 as I had serious knee injuries when I was younger which stopped me from playing. This meant I had to change positions from a center back to a goalkeeper because I couldn’t do too much on my weak knee. I played for Welling United for 3 seasons in which I won the Kent league once and got to 3 cup finals in that time. This earned me a call up to Kent county in which I played 3 games for. I then went to dartford fc academy for two seasons and got promoted to the national league in the second season. I now play for welling united reserve team but have played for the first team this season.
What made me apply: I had no intention of applying at first but I applied for FirstPoint USA because ( bit of a funny story ) I never had a game for ages because of the snow and my mate was going and said it would be a chance just to play. So I went and I was sold by the presentation at the start by Kevin McCann. I signed up which has proven to be a good decision so far.
My University Choice: The reason I choose West Alabama was because I actually had a chance to meet coach at the Showcase and so it felt better to have actually spoke to the coach and been watched in person. I then started to email the coach and get on well with him, and that was really important for me. I did receive a lot of contact from other coaches but West Alabama felt right and me and Dan McCarthy (Macaazzz) felt it was the right decision to make. Also the fact coach wanted me to be captain played a major part as I would be the first captain in the schools history.
Check out this clip of Jack at one of our Client Games :
What I hope to Achieve: In my time there I hope hold an unbeatable record of the most clean sheets in a season and I will look to break that each year I’m there. I would also love to be an All American and after speaking with coach he feels there is nothing stopping that from happening. In my four years there I know its a bit farfetched but I want to win the conference as well as nationals. I have huge ambitions but I do believe the USA is the land of dreams so why not.
How me and Dan Met: I actually met Dan via twitter I believe we sent eachother footage and was impressed with what we saw of eachother. We got on instantly and where I completed my file first I had offers, I showed him West Alabama and he liked it and asked if I could talk to coach about him going there. Since then we decided to go. He stayed round mine last month to help eachother with the forms and stuff as its a complicated process. I also showed him how to dress when going out because his dress sense isn’t as good as his football! Haha
Was I pleased with my offers: I was very pleased with the offers I was made. They were financially good and the schools were good too.
Would I recommend First Point USA: I would recommend FirstPoint USA to anyone wanting to go on a scholarship to America. I have already recommended two people who are going through the process now – Sam Eastgate and Jay Porter. All of the staff are great and hold good experience in the process. I got to play a lot of client games and the footage was great!
My Advice to Others: To anyone wanted to join I would say stay positive the process is very slow even one you have a scholar secured. Keep working hard and try get the profile complete ASAP. The quicker its up, the more offers you will get. Also, don’t be affraid to ask questions to the staff as I said they will help all the time.
Testimonial about Jack Moore, from his Sports Consultant, Kevin McCann
“Jack has been a great client to work with from start to finish. A fantastic keeper who is a great acquisition for coach Matty Thorne at West Alabama. Similar to previous Athlete of the Month, Colin Okirie, Jack was very engaged with staff throughout and also liked to chip in with a bit of banter.
Jack is a really likeable guy, fancies himself as a bit of a ‘lad’, but has so far failed to impress any of the FirstPoint USA coaching staff with his blonde floppy locks. He did however win the heart of a certain Dan McCarthy, blooming into a beautiful bro-mance.
Both lads will be playing at West Alabama next year so everyone here at FirstPoint USA will be keeping a close eye on their progress (and relationship) over the forthcoming years!”
Sporting Background: Started football from the age of 3 where I signed for Hullbridge Sports u5′s and played a year up. I was then scouted to play for Leyton Orient at 5 years old at a summer tournament and went to train a few times. I then carried on at Hullbridge till around 9 being top scorer near on every year and gained many awards such as Managers player and players player of the year. Then which I moved to Leigh Rockets FC. I played here for 3 years till around 12 where I was top scorer again each year and then actually scouted to trial for Arsenal as a Striker (Where I started my days) but also tried out in Goal after playing a match for them there and doing well. I then moved to their Rivals in the highest league Leigh Town for 2 seasons where I was again top scorer again even though I played right wing for many games. At this time I then was asked to train for the Chelsea FC Centre of Excellence for a few weeks up in London but unfortunately I didn’t fulfil that due to my dad not being comfortable with it. Ending my kid days I signed for Catholic United when 15 for my last season which we won the League and League Cup where I scored the Semi Final winner and the winning penalty in the final at Southend United’s ground which was my all time highlight. I also trialled for Charlton Athletic and Southend United through this. I then moved to Leigh Ramblers mens team at 16 and started off in the 3rd team for a couple of games where I rapidly progressed to playing for the first team in Centre Midfield, I reached the top of my game there and then moved to White Ensign Mens team in the league above to better myself again in Centre Midfield where I was Joint top scorer again. Finally I moved to Great Wakering with the Reserves in the Essex Senior League with the first team in the Semi Pro Ryman League, I actually moved back to Centre Back only for this team around 4 months ago so I actually am new to this position but with my dad being my agent if you like he realised with myself this was my best position. We ended up 3rd with myself keeping many clean sheets and reaching the cup semi final!
What made me apply: I have always wanted to visit America for holiday or something since a young age. I actually was on my computer one night in my lounge where a friend of mine recommended trying out, I told my dad and he said go for it and see what happens so I applied online not expecting anything back. The chance to go to America to live and also play football everyday was just such an amazing combination alongside the degree I couldn’t turn down. I had never played in Defence in my life but realising that I had now grown to a suitable 6ft 1 and that many people would try out in attacking positions I tried Centre Back and played really well. I then got a phone call and the rest is history.
My University Choice: The decision to choose UWA was a tough and thoughtful one. With myself gaining around 6 offers or so I had to weigh them all up with taking in what each coach was saying and offering but in the end the choice was made easy with some guidance from Barry Neville especially (who I thank greatly) and my Dad. At one point I thought I would never get an offer but then they all came in. The reason I chose UWA was mainly because I had the chance to make History as part of the first mens soccer team for the University and another major factor was the fact Coach Thorne made the effort to answer all my questions every day and even call me and speak to me and my parents. That was a massive step in my decision.
What I hope to Achieve: I hope to achieve experiencing a chance of a lifetime and to live life to the full living my dream. I hope to enjoy myself and gain my degree in Sports Management to the highest level and then If I can make it as a pro in any league that would be a bonus. Long term I hope to stay in the US and maybe start up my Own Soccer School and help bring up Soccer in the US … or work for FirstPoint USA as a Consultant as the company mean a lot!
How me and Jack Met: We actually played against each other In a Client Game but never spoke, then at the Showcase I saw him play and he watched me but again we didn’t speak until on Twitter we just caught each other and got really close, we spoke every day about our offers and stuff and then I actually went to London to stay at his house and from there we’ve been close and cant wait to share a room at UWA and make history.
Was I pleased with my offers: If you had told me at the start I would gain around 6 offers and more interest I would of said go away, so when it came true I was shocked but happy that coaches appreciated my talent. All the offers were good in their own way and offered me sufficient things in different ways. All were affordable from different leagues and places such as New York, Georgia, LA, California etc alongside Nike sponsorships the lot but West Alabama just stuck out because of making History and the ideas Coach had for the team!
Would I recommend First Point USA: With out a doubt, If I could ever work for the company in the future in some way that would be fantastic if my Soccer School doesn’t come off as that would be a way to say thanks for everything they have done. I couldn’t sum up how good the company is in a paragraph as there is so many elements and good vibes around the company that you wouldn’t experience unless you got involved, If you dream to be a footballer or a professional in any other sport and wish to excel in the US then there is no other company in the world that can help you with your dreams.
My Advice to Others: My advice to people considering doing the process is to Talk it through with your Parents thoroughly before you make the decision, it is a big deal moving country and leaving them behind so make sure all parties are happy.
Be focused and confident when you approach the trial, communication is key in sport but If you are not confident and don’t keep your head up you will not play the game you know you can. Its a one off opportunity with nothing to lose so just go for it.
Be outgoing and friendly to the staff, I am gladly close with many of the staff at the company because I was willing to go the extra mile to talk and meet all the staff and gain their experience, this is a bonus to helping you make the right decisions.
Finally enjoy yourselves and the process, Its fun and they make it so easy and comfortable for you to make the decisions just go with the flow and enjoy it, Make sure you take a parent for your benefit to meetings and stuff and you can enjoy the experience together!
Testimonial about Dan McCarthy from his Sports Consultant, Nicola Pitticas
“I remember the first time Dan McCarthy strolled into his assessment in London – wearing his skinny jeans and trucker hat! The coaches and I glanced at eachother, thinking that One Direction had lost a band member!
During the presentation, he sat in the front row and listened intently to everything that was being explained about the sports scholarship process. I remember his eyes lighting up, and he was the first one out the door to go and get ready for the assessment.
He surprised us all during the assessment and turned out to be a bit of a player (as Dan eloquently told me before the assessment….”I am Dynamite!”)
Next came the interview, in he walked with his Dad and for the first time, I could see how nervous he was. Still, he managed to impress at the interview.
Dan has been an absolute pleasure to work with. His smiley face at client games, his constant tweeting, his eagerness to get interviewed at the showcase and his priceless banter has made him quite a celebrity around the office. I am so excited to hear about his freshman year at West Alabama and all the trouble that he and Jack will cause.
Everyone at FirstPoint USA wishes you both the best of luck.
….and a big congratulations on being named “Athlete of the Month”…finally, you get your name in lights Danny Boy!”
As you can tell, both boys have been a joy to work with and all staff have become very fond of them as they have gone through the process.
We would love to wish both lads the very best for their time at the University of West Alabama. We hope you both keep in touch and update us on your progress (not so much on the love lives though, please guys! )
Thanks to Jack and Dan for taking the time out to answer our questions and for being such great FirstPoint USA candidates!
If you think that you are ready for the next step, why not follow in the steps of Jack & Dan’s football boots and register your details to find out more about Soccer Scholarships to the USA today!
Every month, the FirstPoint USA staff get together to nominate their “Athlete of the Month”. It is always a tough decision to make, with so many gifted young athletes on our books to choose from.
We would like to congratulate Jake Bentwood, who has been nominated by our staff as the Athlete of the Month for May 2012!
Testimonial about Jake Bentwood
‘Jake is my most favourite client….sorry all it is true. I remember him turning up at our Sheffield assessment, total keen bean in his school football kit! (Sorry Jake but you were!)
After the coaching staff decided that he was good enough to pass the assessment I went about organising our interview. His dad was lovely and said that Jake was so excited and eager to impress. It was a family affair at the interview which is always nice and I was totally blown away by the fact that he was so mature for someone so youn