How FirstPointUSA helped me - George Thomson
8 min read
It was in the middle of May 2011 when I had first heard of FirstPoint USA and sports scholarships. I remember it like it was yesterday. The under 19’s and 17’s teams had been told in a week in advance by our coaches that we were to attend a presentation by FirstPoint at the school, where we trained an hour before training would normally start. It was a cold and rainy evening in Ayr and you could just tell that not one player wanted to be there because it was in the middle of the week and the weather was just awful. I remember going in to the room where the presentation was going to take place and the bleachers were all set out waiting on the players and parents to come and attend. The PowerPoint production started off by introducing themselves and their background of what they do and can offer young boys wanting to play Sports while getting a good education at the same time over in the USA. I remember them showing everyone the facilities, which were unbelievable at the biggest schools, bigger than the professional stadiums here in the UK. They also talked about the American education system, the best in the world and the professional athletes from all over the world that attended the USA to complete their degree. I remember them giving us some examples such as Scotland international footballer David weir, golf sensation Tiger Woods, and many others! I was at the age in my football career where I was uncertain if I was going to get signed for the first team at Ayr united or not, and I really had not prepared a back up plan just in case I didn’t because like most young boys playing in youth systems, we all think we are good enough to make the cut. I told my family about FirstPoint USA and what I had heard and they were amazed by the idea of me going over there to play and attending a University. They thought it would be an opportunity and that I would regret it if I did not contact FirstPoint for more information. A couple days after me telling my family, the sat me down and basically made the decision for me. I remember my dad telling me that he had emailed the company asking for more information, saying that he had paid the fee and him saying that I they had planned a client game in a few days and that they could fit me in to play at Tory Glen, Glasgow. They would video the game and what they would then do is promote the players all over the USA by sending the clips of me playing out to all the football coaches in the USA. All of this had happened so fast and my parents were really pushing the idea, and to be honest I was uncertain about it all. Like every teenage boy I thought I was settled, playing football for Ayr, while playing a few games for the reserves and having a girlfriend for over a year. I went to the facility in Glasgow feeling very nervous but ready to show how good I was and ended up scoring two goals in the games and my overall play was good. After the game a member of the staff approached me and told me that I was definitely good enough to go over there and play, which me and my family were thrilled about. It took around 6 weeks for the footage to be finalized and placed online line. The footage was excellent and it highlighted all of my good play during the game and they made me easily noticeable on the screen as I played during the game showing all my best highlights. Overall the footage was about 4 minutes long, which they thought was long enough and good enough for the company to promote me and find me a school. When hearing about the NCAA and all the divisions and also the NAIA I was sceptical at first because I wanted to play in the best league and you would think that Division 1. First Point USA told me and gave me and my family more knowledge of all the leagues and how it all worked, they told me that the standard of football throughout all the leagues is pretty similar. There are very good teams in NCAA division 1,2 3and NAIA have excellent schools and very good soccer programs. So my footage was online by the middle of June and I was getting interest from schools from all over such as Ohio, Texas and schools in Michigan and Illinois. All these schools had shown interest, however not one of them had offered me an exact deal because they wanted me to come out in 2012 because I started the process late and all the coaches had spent there budget, and my family were pushing for me to go out by August. As I was about to leave for my annual vacation to sunny Spain my dad received an Email for a coach from Lewis University, Romeoville which is 35 miles south of Chicago. The email was very straight forward telling me that he wanted me to come out for the following season and the deal with the amount of scholarship they were offering me. As I was on my way to Spain I remember speaking to my parents about the school and the thought it sounded great. For the next couple of days I done some research on the school and found out that they were in one of the hardest NCAA division II conferences (Leagues) in the USA, and that they were the most successful team in the league when it came to conference titles. I really wanted to go to a D1 school but I was told that Lewis University was a very good school academically and through sports. So me and my parents made the decision to accept the deal. That was it; I was going to the USA! I got all the paper work done as quickly as possible and FirstPoint really helped guide me through the whole process, even though I wasn’t even in the country! I had applied to the school and was getting phone calls daily from the coach showing his keen interest in me. I was getting all the paper work done 1I was starting to get eager and the idea of me leaving to go to Chicago was very exciting. I was going to be the first person in my family to attend University and go to the USA. The days went in really quick and the next thing you know I was on my way to Belfast, Ireland as I had applied for my student visa. I actually got it the very same day as I was heading back home to Scotland. July had past and it was now August, and I had just booked my flights from Glasgow to Amsterdam to Chicago. The flight took around 2 hours to Amsterdam and around 8 hours to Chicago. The flight was nice and I didn’t find it too long as I was excited to start my new adventure. I arrived at the Airport looking for my Assistant coach from Lewis, who was picking me up at the time. So I remember walking outside the airport and heading to the car with my jeans and jacket still on as it was raining in Glasgow, and I forgot about the hot summers in Chicago were, it was 30 degrees Celsius. That day I met the coach and all players who were very friendly as they showed me around the campus, which was so colourful with all the trees and plants. They then took me around all the facilities, including the sports and recreation building. I was amazed. My school had a nice cardio room and weight room for the athletes and for students, a huge indoor track for the track athletes, a swimming pool for the swim team and for the students to access and also the 3000 seated basketball and volleyball arena. It was like a sporting community all in one building. They then took me to see the brand-new “soccer field” which they had not even played on yet. It was a top of the line 4G artificial-grass field with “LEWIS” printed inside the each box. It also had with bleachers and a green hill all around the complex and a track around the outside of the pitch. It looked simply amazing. I was told that the whole soccer field cost around $8 Million dollars to build. Not bad for a Division II school. Comparing that field to any of the fields I had played at with Ayr, apart form the professional stadiums. It was completely incomparable.