My American Experience
Well, where do I begin? I’ll start at the very beginning. I was 18 year old girl who was obsessed with the film “Bend It Like Beckham”. I wanted to go to America to play soccer at college.
August 2012, stood at the departures in Heathrow with a copious amount of nerves and emotions, but an overriding amount of excitement for what I was about to embark on. I was about to walk through a door that was the opening to the dream I have dreamt about for years. It was finally happening, it was becoming a reality! There I was, stood with 2 hand luggage bags and a suitcase, with my life in it- traveling to Oklahoma, USA!
I remember the feeling being stood in the airport saying goodbye to my family. Not only was I emotional , I was so excited. The first few days I remember like it was yesterday. I was picked up from the airport by the current captain, who was American. She came to get me and 3 of the men’s players who happened to be on my flight, I just had no idea we were all going to the same place! In fact, we spoke when we were in the departures in London, all as nervous but as excited as each other.
Arriving in The USA
We arrived to campus and were shown to our rooms. Straight away I met my roommate, who had her parents there helping her unpack everything. She was from Oklahoma, so had literally brought everything with her- which was great and as a result really homely! That’s something the Americans are great at! They offered to take me to Walmart to buy me anything I wanted for my room, honestly the Americans are the most kind and caring people! I had no idea what to get so her mum just picked out a load of thing’s for me.
Pre season started a few days after I arrived so luckily I had time to adjust to the heat, and in addition try and overcome jet lag. Pre season was great, it was hot but really good and we gelled as a team so well. I spent every minute of the day with my teammates. We were from England, Scotland, Ghana, Canada, Texas and Oklahoma.
Firstly, the season absolutely flew by! Before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving break which allowed me to go spend time with my uncle in Missouri. I took the British girls with me, we spent a whole week. Secondly, there was now only 10 days until flying home for Christmas! That was the most exciting feeling in the world, knowing I was flying back to see my family and friends, and obviously getting ready for a Christmas dinner!
After my first year, I decided to transfer. I spent a season at a junior college before earning a scholarship to NCAA D2 Delta State University in Mississippi. Unfortunately for me, I suffered a bad back injury that eventually forced me to stop playing in my third year. I was gutted! The reason I went to the States was to play college soccer and it was brought to an end early due to an injury. However, I was determined to finish my degree and I was luckily enough that my scholarship was honoured in order for me to do this. At this point I felt the urge to continue to help the team as best I could, so I became a student assistant coach.
I felt a massive part of the team still and was able to do everything with the girls. One of my highlights was when we travelled to Florida to play West Florida. We got a coach and spent 4 days travelling for games, in Alabama and Florida. I shared a hotel room with my Scottish teammate, we still relive the memories now- 7 years ago! She’s now living in Australia with her boyfriend, who she also met at Delta State in 2013! That just shows you how many great friends you make, and a lot of friendships last, regardless of where you end up!
I met my best friend at Delta State. Funnily enough we were both from England. I came from Portsmouth, she came from Manchester- yet we met in Mississippi. Now, we’re both back home in England and see each other as much as we can!
I graduated in 2016, with a bachelor of science degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
I was lucky enough to be offered a job as part of a soccer club in Memphis. This meant I could extend my visa for another year and was able to work! Memphis was only around 1hr 30mins from my university so I used to go there often, and loved it- so getting a job and being able to live there was ideal!
I spent about 5 months here and loved every moment. In June of 2017, my friend who was coaching in Iowa called me and asked if I wanted to get into college coaching. This was something I couldn’t turn down, so summer 2017 I moved AGAIN! This time to NIACC, in Iowa. You’re probably wondering where Iowa is, I did too! However, the Midwest was a place I hadn’t really experienced yet so it was another thing I could add to my checklist!
I was the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team at NIACC for a season. I loved it! At the end of the season I was made Head Coach of the women’s programme. During this time I spent about 3-4 months recruiting players, mostly International. I was in the process of being sponsored for a long term visa, something you can only get if the job you’re in are willing to sponsor you- it’s pretty costly and a lot of hurdles to cross to get approved!
Unfortunately, it got to a point where I was unable to proceed with this visa process. This gave me no choice but return home to England. I felt devastated. There I was thinking my career was just starting, to be told that I had to leave. I saw the silver lining and used this as an opportunity to take a trip to Australia before going back to England, to visit some friends I had made at Delta State.
A few days before my flight was leaving I spoke to a college coach at West Liberty University, in West Virginia. Within the space of a couple of days he made an offer for me to join his coaching staff, as an assistant coach whilst studying for my Master’s degree. I was BUZZING! This meant I could go back on a student visa for another two years, and continue coaching- all whilst gaining another degree out of it!
I still ended up going to Australia, and then went home for the 2018 World Cup summer months! When I first left for America in 2012 I had absolutely no idea that 6 years later I would be starting a whole new adventure, beginning my masters degree and coaching at the NCAA D2 level. This was an exciting new chapter and something I am forever thankful for.
The two years I spent in West Virginia were great. I got to experience college soccer from a complete different perspective, as well as visiting parts of the country I hadn’t yet been to. Our squad was made up of players from America, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. I knew how the girls felt settling in because I had experienced the transition myself. I had a good relationship with the international girls. Everywhere I went in my college career, the internationals stick together as one big family.
The End of 8 years in America
Once I completed my masters degree I made the decision to move back home to England. It was time for a change for me personally, so coming home was the decision I made.
I am so happy to be a part of the #AthleticademixFamily – Furthermore, I can’t wait to assist with your journey. Moving to America for university is a HUGE thing to do, but something that is worth every single moment!
Thanks for reading! 🙂