Athlete of the Month - February

8 min read
Congratulations to Kerri McDonald who has been nominated by the FirstPoint USA staff as our Athlete of the Month for February 2012! [caption id="attachment_1609" align="aligncenter" width="334" caption="Kerri McDonald, FirstPoint USA Athlete of the Month, February 2012"][/caption] Kerri is a FirstPoint USA Field Hockey client, and has been offered a scholarship to the University of Richmond in Virginia : 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 experiencea rich and innovative life for students inside and outside the classroomand 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). We caught up with Kerri to find out more about how she feels about going out to the USA, and how the process has been so far; 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. [caption id="attachment_1606" align="aligncenter" width="715" caption="Kerri in action"][/caption] 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 havent looked back! What made you chose the University of Richmond? It is very overwhelming having many different colleges contact you and choosing a University isnt easy! Especially when its 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 doesnt 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 arent readily accessible in the UK. Were you pleased with the offers you were made? I couldnt 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. Its 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! [caption id="attachment_1607" align="aligncenter" width="990" caption="Kerri with some of her new team mates at the University of Richmond"][/caption] Would you recommend FirstPoint USA to others? Of course! I wouldnt have known about any of these opportunities if it wasnt 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 theres one thing I fear it would be looking back on this opportunity with regret if I didnt grasp it with two hands. For some sports, unfortunately there isnt enough opportunities to fulfill your potential, but the skys the limit! If you dont take the chance to reach your goals youre the only one to blame. DONT 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. -Mia Hamm [caption id="attachment_1608" align="aligncenter" width="986" caption="Kerri visits The University of Richmond - Go Spiders!"][/caption] 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.
She has been driven and motivated throughout her time on the FirstPointUSA program. I had the pleasure of meeting her family on a number of occasions and taking her for her individual hockey session so that the media department could compile her video footage.
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.
All that remains for me to say is that I wish Kerri the best of luck in her future endeavors. If you ever need anything please drop me an email or give me a call.
Enjoy your freshman year!! '
We would like to thank Kerri for taking the time to share her thoughts and experiences with us, and we would love to wish her every success at the University of Richmond!
If you are interested in finding out more about Field Hockey Scholarships with FirstPoint USA, check out our website.

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