Damians Adventure In America - One Month In...

5 min read
It has been just over one month since I moved from Glasgow to Georgia to pursue my dream of playing college 'soccer'. It has been one of the fastest months I can remember with about everything packed in to it I could have imagined and more. I first dreamed of doing this when I was around 14/15 and by the time I was 16 I decided this would be the best way to pursue my soccer career as well as gaining a degree alongside it. When I was 16 I applied to Glasgow based agency FirstPointUSA who had a proven track record of placing athletes of all abilities in the US collegiate system in both NCAA and NAIA institutes. As soon as my Standard Grade results arrived in August 2010 I applied for a trial day, and after success on the pitch I was invited for an interview in the companies Glasgow office with Kevin McCann. After a long meeting he had sold both myself and my mother on the idea that, after completing my 6th year of high school in Scotland, this would be the best path for me. I was signed up around January 2011 and from then it was all systems go. I was filmed playing against other clients at indoor soccer facilities at Toryglen, next to Hampden Park, Scotland's national stadium. Add in a trip to London to play against more clients from the UK as well as coaches from the USA and my profile was complete with my SAT scores and eligibility added. FirstPoint USA have a policy that if you receive no offers then you would have a 100% refund which gave my family extra security when going ahead with the plan. All in I received six offers from all over the US. New York, Hawaii, California, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Georgia. It was a difficult choice but I decided that the Georgia offer was the best for both myself and my parents financial position, so accepted the soccer scholarship offer on the table to the NAIA Division 1 college Brewton-Parker College. From accepting the offer in May 2012 it was a crazy three months that followed in preparing myself for the big move across the pond. A trip to Belfast to the US embassy for my visa and numerous phone calls with my new coach Mike Dye ensued and as soon as this was complete along with what seemed like 400 pieces of paper work I was ready to finally book my one way flight to the states. I had some great times with my close friends and family knowing that I wouldn't be able to do such activities in the US like going out and being typical teenagers up and out at silly hours in the morning. As much as I miss my friends and family, a doorman at my work Iain MacCalman (who himself had moved to the states on a scholarship, returning after 6 months) told me that the people and places will always be there; but this would be my time to do my thing and to do what I wanted to do. The US is a total different culture to what I was used to back home in Glasgow. There is a large emphasis on serving God in all you do, which was something I wasn't used to back home to such an extent even though I attended a Catholic primary school. The soccer is also more based on the physical side rather than ability which isn't pushed as much back home. We had a very punishing pre-season with 6am wake up calls for 4 mile runs followed by morning and afternoon training sessions. Two tight hamstrings later I felt I was used to the pressure of having to deal with constant soccer practice, whereas in Scotland at my level it was training twice a week with a game at the weekend. Our season has begun but we have yet to play a 'Conference' game which is the main league here. We have around 5 or 6 teams in the top 25 NAIA rankings so it will be very tough for our college to make post season but with a bit of luck and form we may surprise a few around here after a few positive results lately. [caption id="attachment_4261" align="aligncenter" width="1366" caption="Yellow #1 Jersey"][/caption] I am learning how to balance study, soccer, gym workouts, diet and sleep which is slowly becoming the norm to me. I have no regrets about moving to the US to pursue my dream, and am fully looking forward to the next 8 months before I return home for summer to see all those who I am close to. Thank you to Damian for this great blog, we look forward to hearing more from him in the next few months about his experiences in Georgia! You can check out his regular blog here

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