Where Are They Now | Sam Winstanley

6 min read

We recently caught up with FirstPoint USA and Illinois Institute of Technology alumni, Sam Winstanley. Sam shares with us experiences from his time in the States, what he has been up to since graduation within his current role at Beswicks Sports, as well as his advice for any young sportsmen and women currently considering pursuing a sports scholarship in the United States.

Can you tell us about the experience you had on your scholarship in the States?

"It was probably the best decision I ever made – both in terms of life experience and academically. I was based in downtown Chicago which was unbelievable; I nearly ended up in Campbellsville, Kentucky which I think might not have been so good! I went to the Illinois Institute of Technology – IIT – on the south-side of Chicago, we were pretty much in the city so we had that at our disposal. We had a good team, we had an English coach, a guy called Lee Hitchen, who I am ever so thankful for; we got to the conference finals a couple of times - always just lost out on Nationals, so that’s a little bit of a bit of a regret, but we had a great time doing it.

Educationally, I think it stood me in really good stead for what I’m doing now. I thought the four years were tough, it was a pretty good school so it was testing. But, in terms of a broad experience, absolutely amazing – I’d recommend it to anyone! I think it opens your mind, it introduces you to a hell of a lot of new people from different walks of life. Although we feel that there is quite a close link between the UK and the US, I think getting there and living there, you start to notice the differences and they become more pronounced."

What was most memorable to you about your experience?

"Probably the city, to be honest – such a vibrant melting pot. The weather was fantastic both boiling hot in the Summer with beaches, and freezing cold with skiing and snow in the Winter – that’s what Chicago is. I’d say I was very fortunate with where I ended up, I think there would’ve been quite a few places that I wouldn’t have enjoyed quite as much as I did.

Probably, the city, the group of friends I made, and the people there, I would say, are what stands out most. I still try and see quite a few of the lads as often as I can, a couple of times a year. I left there with friends for life, which I’d say has to be the most memorable."

Can you tell us about your career path since you gradated and your hopes for the future?

"Well, I came back to the UK upon graduation, in May 2012, with the idea that I wanted to work within football somehow. I had an idea that I wanted to represent players, I thought that would be something that I’d be good at, something that I’ve got a passion for; and six years on, it’s worked out quite well. I’m now a Football Intermediary at Beswicks Sports, representing a number of players such as; Jack Butland, Jay Rodriguez, Romaine Sawyers, Sean Longstaff, and Geoff Cameron. I also do a lot of work with Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, and I’ve taken a number of players out to the MLS in the last few years such as, Jack Price and Chris McCann.

Where I’ve ended up, and what I’ve ended up doing has been a really good hybrid between the US and the UK. It has allowed me to continue that US experience which I first gained through my scholarship in going out to Illinois Tech in Chicago.

I’m really enjoying my job, it’s a job I feel quite fortunate to do, I think there’s a lot of people who would like to do it and it’s very much a closed shop, it’s difficult [to get into]; I got lucky, through sheer will really - sending out CVs and speaking to as many people as possible.

I know that going out to Chicago, and studying out there, helped me get this job because my boss at the time, had a keen interest in the MLS and that was my USP; they definitely went hand in hand. In terms of hopes for the future, I hope to continue building on the successes we’ve had, signing more players and doing good jobs for them, and growing organically; from there, who knows. A hope of mine for the future, is to carry on spending time in the States, and seeing if we can strengthen that transatlantic business."

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a sports scholarship?


In all seriousness, I would want people to consider their options, in terms of location, in terms of type of school – obviously the university landscape in the US is completely different to what it is here; there’s places which I would’ve enjoyed and places I wouldn’t. But, wherever you end up and wherever you accept, go with an open mind. You will get homesick, and there’s a lot of people who come home around Christmas time, but I think you have to look at a bigger picture than that. It’s a fantastic experience, it’s four years that I am so thankful for.

To anyone who’s considering it, who’s fortunate enough to have the grades, and to have the interest from schools out there, just take the bull by the horns and go – it really could be the making of you."


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