Interview With The University Of West Alabama's, Kirsten Reilly!

7 min read
Kirsten Reilly has made a huge impact on the pitch for the University of West Alabama. Last year she was awarded the prestigious "University Female Athlete On The Year". She took time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions on life as a student athlete and what it takes to be success in America.     Can you tell us a bit about your background, where you are from, teams played for and school that you attended? I was born in Musselburgh Scotland and have lived there my whole life. I started off playing for Musselburgh Windsor, before moving onto Heart of Midlothian. I played there for five years, and started playing for the senior Womens team at the age of 14. I attended my local school, Musselburgh Grammar School. What were your reasons forwanting to go to the US on a football scholarship? I have wanted to go and play football in the US from a very young age. When I found out about all the amazing opportunities out here, so much better than anything back home, I started looking for ways to make it happen. How did your family feel when you first told them about the opportunity to play in America? My family were all for me grabbing this opportunity, despite the fact that they would miss me. They are the most supportive family ever, and are always up at all hours watching my games online. Every year they come out and see me play and get to experience the life I am living out here. How did you and your family find the processof obtainingafootball scholarship? After signing on with firstpoint I didnt really need to stress much with the whole process because they deal with it all for me. After seeing some friends go through this process alone and not with an agency, I am very glad that I chose the route that I did. The whole process seemed to happen so quickly and smoothly. What made you pick The University of West Alabama over the other offers you received and what were your first impressions of the campus,sport facilities when you first arrived? I noticed that there was a significant number of British and other international players already playing soccer at this school, on the mens and womens teams so thought that it would help me settle more as they have had to go through the same process of moving away from home too. Both my coaches were also British, head coach from Glasgow, so I knew that I could relate to a lot of football related topics with them. I also liked that the University of West Alabama was relatively small compared to most others I had looked at. This just seemed the right option for me, even before I came over.   How did you deal with home sickness in your firstyear? I didnt really experience much home sickness when out here. After the very tough initial goodbye to all friends and family I settled in very quickly. I think the close connection within the team helped a lot and having a roommate from Northern Ireland and so dealing with the same challenges and experiences really helped. Our home flags really brightened up our room too! The support from home helped me a lot, and knowing that I was making my family proud made me want to make the experience even more enjoyable. How do you find life as a student athlete, balancing your sport and education? As a student athlete you dont really have much time to think about how busy your schedule is. Its really just wake up, practice, school, eat, sleep. The school supports athletes well with mentoring and tutoring programs available too. I have chosen a non-sports-related degree (maths) and I find this gives me good balance between my sport and my studies. Can you tell us a bit about your average day of training/playing and studying? I train around two hours per day, and two games per week. All training sessions are specific to the teams that we play that week and always high intensity. It can get really tough sometimes especially with the early rises, and hot temperatures. We either train in the mornings before classes, or in the afternoons depending on class schedules. Now I am a senior, my class schedule is all over the place and I sometimes dont finish until 8.30 in the evening, having been up at 5.15am for morning training. Its not for the feint-hearted, but if are keen to combine study and sport its an amazing way to do it! You were named University of West Alabama female student-athlete of the year. A magnificent achievement! Can you tell us how you first found out youhad won and how you felt? I first found out when all the student athletes of the university were gathered at tiger stadium pre-season for a welcome get-together ice cream social. I was very surprised about this award but also very happy and really proud of my achievement as I had worked so hard the previous year both in the class and on the field. Can you tell usabout the otherhonorsyou have won and what they mean? (to someone who's maybe not familiar with the American CollegeSportawards) I have been really lucky in my time here in getting recognition for my achievements: September 2016 (start of my final - senior year): was named Gulf South Conference (thats the league I play in) Player of the Week, being instrumental in all 4 goals scored over 2 games (both wins) - 3 assists and one goal. Season 2015 (junior year):NSCAA NCAA Division II All-South Region Second Team (this is a roll of honour to recognise the highest achieving players in the region), All-GSC first Team (another roll of honour, this time within my league), two-time GSC Player of the Week, and of my 9 goals scored in the season -7 were match winners. Season 2014 (sophomore year): Second Team All-GSC (roll of honour) Two ofmy three total goals on the seasonwere game-winners Season 2013 (freshman year): Named to theGSC All-Tournament Team (roll of honour) What's your plans for after graduation? I plan to return to the UK when I graduate May 2017, and will be looking for a Club either in England or Scotland. I am starting this process now, contacting Clubs with my sporting CV. I am currently deciding whether I will look to continue my studies in the UK. Do you have any advice forplayers who are thinking aboutgoing to America on a scholarship Do it! But be aware that it isnt a holiday it takes hard work, resilience and determination to get the most out of the experience. And get a really good understanding of the academic side and how it works to ensure you are able to graduate on time. It is the best decision I have ever made!   We thank Kirsten for her time, keep up the hard work!  

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