We recently caught up with FirstPoint USA alumni, Corrie McDonald. Currently in her senior year at York College, Nebraska, the soccer player shares with us her experiences from obtaining a sports scholarship; how she found the move to the US; what life as a student-athlete is like; as well her plans for after graduation.
“I am from Liskeard, Cornwall, England a small-ish town that’s 25 minutes away from the beach. I played for Callington Ladies Football Club during my last year in England (2 other girls have also gone out to the US on soccer scholarship from this team). But, I also played for St. Dominick Ladies Football Club, Cornwall Centre of Excellence, Callington Colts Football Club, and the St. Cleer Youth Football Club throughout my playing career back home. I went to Liskeard School and Community College from year 7 to year 13.”
Corrie tells us that as she was getting ready to sit her A-Levels, university in England was beginning to become more and more expensive, so she began to explore alternative options. Stating, “I looked in to joining the RAF, and I looked into going to college in the US on a soccer scholarship. The more I looked in to the whole soccer scholarship thing, the more I liked the look of it. I would get to play the sport I love at a competitive level, it would help pay for my education, and I would get to experience a new culture… sign me up!
My Step mum was actually the first person to plant the seed of playing in America, because she knew of someone who had done the same thing. But, when I started to get a little more serious in my research, my parents may have had some reservations. They wanted to make sure that I would be able to financially support myself in another country, and that I would be in a safe environment. My parents supported me throughout the whole process, and understood that it was something I really wanted to do. They took me to try-outs with FPUSA and came with me for interviews and showcases.”
With regards to securing a soccer scholarship in the US, Corrie tells is that her parents trusted that she knew what she was looking for, and that she would make smart decisions; asking for help whenever it was needed. The soccer player states, “It wasn’t an easy process. But, it was worth it! I just had to make sure that I stayed on top of completing check lists for both FPUSA and different colleges I was looking in to.”
We asked Corrie what is was about Western Nebraska Community College that made her choose to study there, opposed to any of the other offers she received…
“I had a lot of great offers from schools throughout the US and Canada, and I came close to choosing a couple of other schools. Honestly, I was kind of scared to go to a community college. The American media tends to put a negative stereotype on community colleges, and I was concerned that the transfer process would be difficult. But, I chose WNCC for several reasons. The scholarship offer was very affordable, and the coach showed that he cared about me as a person and not just as a player.
There was a possibility that I may have had to have a minor surgery on my toe before leaving for the states, which would’ve meant that I would have to sit out for at least a week of pre-season. So, I asked the coach what he thought I should do, and if he still wanted me to play for him. He simply said that I had to do what was best for me and my body. If this was going to relieve pain for me and help me in the long run, then I should do it. Plus, the school itself showed possibilities for a bunch of fun, and unique leadership positions.
WNCC’s campus is small and easy to get around, which made my life a lot easier when trying to get used to a new country. But, it was pretty with green grass and flowers all over campus. I loved the community living in the dorms, having a bathroom to share with just my roommate, and having a bank and stores just a 5-minute walk from campus. There was a weight room in the main building, which we could use any time we wanted and the soccer field was obviously very well kept, with a big score board which also looked really cool.”
To start off with, Corrie tells us that it was difficult to find the perfect balance between school, soccer, and having fun outside of the two. “I was used to being okay with getting Bs in my classes, doing minimal studying, and barely any homework. But, the US relies heavily on homework, and if you don’t do it, you don’t pass the class.
And having practice for at least 2 if not 4 hours a day in the blazing heat, with 3 sessions of weight lifting, classes, and homework; it was a lot. (Especially when I was used to having only one practice session and one game a week.)
But, I had professors, coaches, classmates, and staff members at the school looking out for me; guiding me when I started to under-perform.”