We recently caught up with Former FirstPoint USA client, Cameron Saul. In 2015, Cameron headed out to the US after having committed to a soccer scholarship at Young Harris College. After his freshman year, Cameron transferred to Waldorf University to continue his studies and soccer career. Here, Cameron tells us about his experiences regarding the scholarship process, how he's finding life as a student athlete, and his summer playing Asheville City Soccer Club.
Cameron Saul hails from Enfield, North London where he attended Bishop Stopford's Secondary School. At the age of 9, Cameron joined his first soccer team, the Edmonton All-Saints, which was coached by the parent of a school friend. At 12 years old, he signed for Luton Town, who at the time were in the championship; before playing U17 and U18 soccer for Wingate and Finchley FC.
Cameron tells us that the decision to pursue a US soccer scholarship was driven by the desire to become a professional soccer player. He stated, after falling out of the professional game aged 16, I was left playing youth football for a semi-professional club in the hope of being spotted once again. Whilst doing this I was also attending sixth form college, and preparing for university life in England. Opportunities to pursue both university and soccer in England are limited, so the option of moving abroad to the US where the opportunities are more widely available, made the most sense to me.
When first telling his family about his opportunity to play in America, Cameron tells us that they were all very supportive from the start and believed that it would be a great experience for him. They viewed the experience away from home, not only from an athletic and academic standpoint, but as a chance for Cameron to mature and grow into a more well-rounded adult. However, Cameron stated, I don't think it really hit anyone that I was really going to America until we were saying our goodbyes at the airport. At that moment I don't think there was a dry eye from any family member, including me. That was the hardest moment.
Regarding the process of obtaining his scholarship, Cameron tells us that he and his family found it very simple due to the help of FirstPoint USA. He tells us, from the moment I signed with the company, they made it really easy for me to stay on top of each task I needed to handle. The four main steps were getting filmed, sitting the SAT exam, talking to coaches, and then obtaining a visa; each of which I was able to do without any hassle or complications.
Upon making his move out to the states, Cameron chose to attend Young Harris College, telling us that he made his decision largely down to the coaching staff. He tells us that Head Coach, McKeever, and Assistant Coach, Grey, have built a culture of success, and have had many players go into the professional ranks after their time at college. As Cameron's dream is to go professional after his time in college, he felt Young Harris seemed like the best place for him to be. Cameron stated.
In my first year there, the team was ranked #1 in the nation for NCAA DII soccer, and reached the quarter finals for the national tournament. Although this success was everything I wanted coming out to the US, the strength of the team meant I didn't have as big enough a role within the squad as I had wanted, and I decided to move on. I subsequently transferred to Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, who compete in the NAIA, for my sophomore season. At Waldorf I have been able to make the impact I wanted as a freshman starting at Young Harris. I captained the side to a second placed finish in the conference, whilst also reaching the conference tournament final. In his time at Waldorf University so far, Cameron tells us that he has played in all 19 games under Coach Michael Wilson, starting, scoring four goals, and having one assist from defensive midfield.
We asked Cameron if he has ever suffered from homesickness whilst out at university in the US. He stated that he found his first semester in the US the hardest, but adds that the homesickness didn't appear until the soccer season was over. He tells us that when the season ended and his only focus was on school, he had a lot more spare time, and it was during this period that he began to feel homesick. However, Cameron tells us that this only occurred throughout his first semester in the US and after that initial hurdle it became a lot easier to be away from family and friends at home. He tells us that he found the best way to deal with homesickness was to keep busy in other activities such as intramural sports, and going out with his friends.
Life as a student athlete can be difficult, trying to balance your sport and education. However, Cameron tells us that this has become second nature to him now and he is enjoying every minute of it. He stated.
Being a successful student athlete is about effective scheduling and time management, which are both necessary in order to stay on top of the demands. I think I have a pretty effective system which reflects in the fact I have made dean.s list every semester I have been in the US, and have excelled on the field earning First-Team All-Conference honours in my first year at Waldorf University.
Throughout this summer, Cameron has been playing with Asheville City Soccer Club, we asked him how this opportunity came about. He tells us that it all came about off a good recommendation and an email. Adding, from then it all moved pretty quickly, and before I knew it, I was receiving a phone call from the head coach and owners about the vision of the club. Right away I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of, and I haven't looked back since. Cameron tells us that he signed for the club shortly after, and was subsequently announced as the first player in the clubs history.
Cameron tells us that the highlight of his summer at Asheville City Soccer Club has to be scoring the winning goal in the inaugural game of the season and being awarded man of the match. He tells us, this was the clubs first ever game in history and there were over 2,000 people in attendance. The noise they make when I scored will live with me forever. Georgia Revolution was the team we beat, and incidentally was the team I played for last year before tearing my lateral meniscus, and so scoring for them also had some personal significance. Cameron added that he reached the playoffs with Asheville City Soccer Club under Coach, Gary Hamel who competed in the NPSL. Cameron scored one goal and had three assists from defensive midfield.
We'd like to thank Cameron for getting in touch with us, it's great to hear how a former client is getting on. We'd like to wish Cameron the best of luck for the remainder of his studies and playing career at Waldorf University.