We spend a lot of time talking about how our young athletes feel about their new experiences living, studying and playing the sport in the USA. However, what about their parents? After all, it is a big decision, and a big adjustment for the family as a whole....so, how does it feel to be the parent of a young athlete pursuing a sports scholarship to the USA?...
We caught up with Jerry Smith, father of Sacred Heart Universitysoccer scholarship recipient Callum Smith to find out!....
What made you (or your son) decide on a US Sports Scholarship as an option?
We decided on a sports scholarship because it allows Callum to continue his football and get a recognised degree.
What were your concerns when you were initially started researching FirstPoint USA and Sport Scholarships for your son? What helped to put your mind at ease?
My first concerns were that FirstPoint USA might be an Internet scam! Callum had told us there was a fee so we did a lot of research. We had friends in Florida who checked out FirstPoint USA , and I visited the head office and seen how professional the organisation was. Meeting the staff was the big changing point for us - the first meeting with John Crawley was a good start .
How did you find the scholarship process at FirstPoint USA? Did you have any issues and how were these resolved?
The scholarship process is long, the paper work is endless and you need to keep on top of it all the time. The team at FirstPoint USA are excellent at offering guidance through this, especially Nicole Montoya. She was fantastic and nothing was too much trouble. Any issues I had were very quickly dealt with by the team. FirstPoint USA are only a phone call away and they were quick to get back to me.
What is your opinion of FirstPoint USA staff and how did you find the overall service?
The staff at FirstPoint USA were all very helpful and professional. Their knowledge is amazing. At first I would call them 2 or 3 times a week... I thought I was annoying them but every time they were patient and said it was OK to call as many times as you wish . The process takes a year and at every stage I found FirstPoint USA very helpful.
How did Callum enjoy the experience of our Client Games, and our Showcase games?
Callum loved the Client games and the Showcase games, they were invaluable! The games kept Callum focused, to meet the staff and talk to them was so beneficial putting a face to a name was important and he enjoyed meeting coaches from America .
What offers did you receive and how happy were you both with the scholarship offers you received?
We recieved many offers, about 10. The offers were varied and we had to look at budget and what was the best college for Callum...location of the college was also important.
What made Callum decide on SHU? How much influence did you and the family have as a whole in this decision?
We decided on SHU because they gave us a scholarship within our budget and the facilities are fantastic! It's a big decision and as a family we has to sit down and talk, this is for 4 years so we had to get it right. We did a lot of research on the Internet.
How has Callum been enjoying his time at SHU so far? What has he been experiencing?
Callum has been loving SHU and says he is having a great time! He says its a massive change, and he is working really hard . He trains 2 hours a day in 80 degree heat, 5 days a week, and they play twice a week in conference games!
He is studying hard also. After training he has to go to class and that is hard.
He also has a very active social life... and his accent is going down very well!
You recently visited Callum in the US - what was your impression of the University and it's facilities, and his general standard of living? Why do you think it is worthwhile for a parent to visit their child in the US on scholarship?
If you get the chance to go and see your child at their College I would highly recommend it - it means so much to you and them. I was lucky to go and see Callum last week , it was fantastic! The sport facilities are out of this world. They have a $17 million Athletic complex, and the gym is world class!
Addidas sponsor the team so they don't have to pay for kit. They have their own team doctor and academic team advisor.
Callum is treated like a semi pro.
Callum shares a room which is basic , twin bunks, fridge and microwave . He is hardly in his room, only to sleep.
[caption id="attachment_4586" align="aligncenter" width="720" caption="Proud Dad, Jerry Smith wears SHU shirt"][/caption]
As an athlete, he is on a special meal programme. He can choose from 8 different restaurants and all of his food is included in his fees - so you don't have to worry about him eating (which his mum worried about) .
How happy would you say your son is with his decision to go to the US?
Callum is very happy in the USA , he working hard and having a ball . It's not all about football, you have to work hard it class to get good grades to stay in the team .
Callum is loving the life style,and he loves the food and social life . He is able to watch other sports too like Americian Football and Basketball.
Has Callum experienced homesickness and how have you handled this?
It's only been two months but Callum has not experienced home sickness, he is far too busy to think about home!
How has your family managed to stay in touch with Callum, and how do you cope with missing your son?
Staying in touch is easy - we use FaceTime, Skype, E-mails and Text. The problem is that Callum never answers! He is too busy and the time difference means it can be tough to get hold of him. We miss him terribly but we know he is in a good place and that makes all the difference.
What advice would you have for any parents who are considering sending their child to the USA on a sports scholarship?
If you a considering sending your child on scholarship - work with them! It's a long process and you need to keep on top of things. Regular contact with FirstPoint USA is essential. This is an amazing opportunity for my son Callum and in Callum's word he says;
"I am living the dream, Dad"
We would like to thank Jerry Smith for taking the time to speak to us about his experience with FirstPoint USA and the Sports Scholarship process. We hope that many parents who are unsure about sending their kids to the USA, will benefit from his advice.
It is great to hear that Callum is enjoying his time in the USA. It sounds like he is making the most of his time there, and we wish him every success for the next 4 years in the USA!