Damian's Adventure - Is It Worth It?"As the season comes to an end I have been reevaluating my life changing decision to move to the States and play College Soccer. Being a Freshman, my experience is relatively small whereas those graduating in my team as Seniors have been exactly where I am just now and know exactly how it was to see out their four years as a college athlete. One such player is a team-mate of mine called Sam Haynes originally from Northampton, England; who like myself went through Glasgow based agency FirstPoint USA . I have managed to get an interview with Sam to get a real feel of what the whole four year process is like, both positive and negative. How did you first decide that you wanted to pursue your career on a soccer scholarship? Well having been on the brink of professional ranks in England and having numerous rejections between 16 and 18, I felt that I had nothing to lose in terms of pursuing a career in soccer. How did you hear about FirstPoint USA? My mum done a lot of research on agencies when I was 17 and came to me with the FirstPoint USA welcome pack. I then went to a trial day and was successful - I was told I was the sort of player they were looking for. The reason I chose FirstPoint USA was that they made the process effortless and smooth for me which was a huge contrast to my playing career in England. How many offers in total did you receive, and were they what you were expecting? I received a few offers that were a bit out of my price range, so after being a bit shocked it was relief that a few weeks later Eastern New Mexico University (NCAA Division II) sent me an e-mail with a very good scholarship which I accepted within days after my advisor told me this would be one of the best deals I would possibly get. What was your first year like as a freshman? There was a lot of ups and downs, mainly downs. Firstly there was a lot of eligibility problems which kept me out half of the season and then when I became eligible I was a bit-part player, only starting three games and featuring in nine in total. At the end of your first year, you transferred. Why, and did you feel it was a good move? Having not seeing eye to eye with the manager from the offset I knew that I needed to re-establish myself as a player and prove a point to him and myself. I moved to a junior college called Western Texas for my sophomore year where I felt as if I was fulfilling my potential. I was ranked in the top 20 attackers in the country with 18 goals and 11 assists: this was to be my best season. The move helped me regain my confidence and my belief that the US was the right place for me by sticking it out and regaining my form. As this was a junior college and you had to transfer, what was the process like? After completing the season, I made a highlight video and sent it to roughly 100 coaches. Having had numerous replies and with the American economy being at a tough time it was hard to gain a sizeable scholarship offer. I then received an offer from a school I didn't know much about, and as the offer was in my price range I accepted it without knowing much about the college. Looking back on this, I probably should've waited for a bigger school to come along. What has your time as a Junior and Senior been like? Very up and down. Not only with the team struggling in the conference, I was also finding it tough holding down a place in the team due to various circumstances. It has definitely been an experience however, and even though I might not have fulfilled my potential as a player it has definitely done me a world of good as a person and given me a great life experience that I'll have forever. As you graduate in Spring 2013, what is next for you? I plan on trying out for a few teams in America just to see if anything will happen at a higher level for me than college. Should that not work, I have received an offer to be a graduate/assistant coach at a college in Alabama through an old coach of mine. Do you plan on returning the UK to live or do you see yourself becoming a citizen of the USA? I don't see myself going back to England in the near future, as there is much more opportunity in the states. In the last 4 years I have learned that I would rather stay in the US as I feel that this is where I am most at home as a person. Even though I have family back home, they will always be able to visit but I will never forget where I came from but the chance to make more for myself in the US is too good an opportunity to leave behind. What has been your highlight and lowlight? My highlight has been making friends with people from all walks of life and from every corner of the world that I would never had the opportunity to do so in England. I wouldn't say I had one single experience that would stand out as a low light because all of the lows just made the highs for me even sweeter. Would you recommend to anyone to pursue an athletic scholarship? I would recommend the experience 100%. Anyone who wants to pursue their sport to the highest level and gain an education at the same time should definitely consider choosing the United States as it is seen as the land of opportunity and for me has been the best experience of my life, bar none. I thank Sam for his frank and honest views given for the interview and hope that it inspires people to make the move as it something they will never regret. Our season is almost over and as we focus more on the academic side of college life and look forward to Thanksgiving followed by Christmas vacation, the year has certainly been an eventful experience. Thanks once again for taking your time to read this blog. Feel free to give either of us feedback or to ask questions. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @theboyohare. If you wish to follow Sam in his next steps in the States post college, follow him on twitter @S_Haynes9."
We would love to thank Damian and Sam for updating us on their experiences in the US. There is certainly a lot to consider when thinking about a soccer scholarship to the USA, and it's great to hear that both of these boys are making the most of their opportunities in the US.
We look forward to your next blog Damian, and wish both you and Sam the very best!
If a soccer scholarship to the USA is something that you want to find out more about, the majority of our staff have all been through FirstPoint USA on sports scholarships to the US themselves and will be happy to help you with any questions or concerns you may have.
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