FirstPoint USA client, Mikey O’Malley has recently completed his Freshman year at Central Washington University. We recently caught up with Mikey to hear how he found the move over to the States, his first impressions of CWU, and what he’s looking forward to throughout the remainder of his student-athlete career.
“I really enjoyed my freshman year at Central Washington. So far, my time in America has been an incredible experience, both on and off the rugby pitch. Initially, I was quite nervous as I did not fully understand the American education system and was not sure of how high the standard of rugby would be. But very quickly, I found my feet as I got a lot of help from Coach Thornely and other Wildcat athletic staff. The guys on my team were really helpful and I was so lucky to join a program with such a positive atmosphere. I was then amazed by the standard of rugby in America and how hard we have to work as a program to be competitive and successful. It is truly satisfying to be part of this Central Washington team that is going in the right direction.
This year was quite tough for us, as we were a young team, going through a bit of a transitional phase. We had a lot of talent in the squad but just lacked experience to get us over the line. We also suffered lots of injuries which made the season more difficult; I, unfortunately, broke my clavicle. Despite all of this, we managed to stick together as a unit and made the Division 1A playoffs. Some highlights for us as a team were our strong performances against teams like, Seattle Saracens and Utah Valley University. We are hoping to go several steps further next season as the squad will be more experienced, with the addition of some extra talent, we will be ready to compete with the best schools in the country!”
Upon finding his feet at CWU, Mikey was shown around the campus’ facilities, and was completely blown away. He stated, “Pitches, gyms and study halls are available to all student athletes; we are given everything that we could possibly need to be our best. We are also entering an exciting period where we will have access to the newly renovated ‘Tomlinson Stadium’. This is an interesting time and I am delighted to be a part of it!”
Student-athletes can often find it difficult to find the balance between studying, training and socialising. However, after figuring out the structure, and learning what was expected of him, Mikey tells us he really enjoys being a part of a system that requires him to be organised with his time. Adding, “We do have opportunities to socialise and enjoy ourselves as long as we train hard and study hard to get the results we require. It suits me to be a part of a program that rewards hard work and dedication.
In my spare time, I like to chill out and wind down after a tough session or a long day of lectures. A lot of the time I’ll meet up with my friends for a movie or to get some food. I also like to listen to music, read and play my ukulele. I also like to call family and friends to catch up and hear about how they are getting on.”
With his sophomore year just around the corner, Mikey tells us he’s excited to get back on the rugby pitch and to begin his preparations to compete in Division 1A. He stated, “Coach Thornely is putting together a great team, full of talent. I am also looking forward to working back in the classroom, and beginning my studies of elementary education.
Finally, we asked Mikey to share any advice he has for someone considering pursuing an athletic scholarship in the USA. “I would recommend you to choose a program with a coach who shares similar ideas to yourself and who you will be able to build a good relationship with. I was so lucky to come into contact with Coach Thornely. I knew from the beginning that his rugby philosophy and vision for the future of Central Washington was positive and that he was the man to lead the program in the right direction. To anyone on the fence about going to the US on a sports scholarship, just go for it! The opportunities in America are endless and it is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.”