Leaving behind your family for a new journey

Posted By: Emma OConnor
Posted On: August 23rd, 2016
Attending: Maynooth University

Hey everybody! So I am in a different situation from the other scholars because for majority of the scholars this is their first year out of college. This will be my third year out of college so I am a little older than everyone else. My first year out of college I was a P.E. teacher and I enjoyed it but i didn’t LOVE it. I was also coaching at the high school I went to and coaching for an AAU organization called Rising Stars. 

I absolutely love coaching, I was coaching three AAU teams in my organization, 6th grade, 7th grade, and 10th grade. Every team came with their challenges and and I was learning a lot about coaching different skill levels. When I was coaching my high school players I would watch from the sideline and I wouldn’t be able to sit still because I wanted to be out on the court so badly playing again. I was a little burnt out from playing in college so I didn’t think I wanted to continue playing post college. I talked to some close friends, family and coaches about trying to play again. Everyone was extremely supportive of my decision. 

My college coach got me set up with coming over to play in Belfast last year and I absolutely loved it! I played for the Ulster Rockets, everyone was so welcoming and made me feel right at home. The coaches were great and the girls were so welcoming. I was the only American on my team, so when Thanksgiving came around I was feeling a little homesick. One of my teammates and her family invited me to a big Thanksgiving dinner that they hold for all of the Americans. So I went to this big Thanksgiving dinner and it happened to be the Sport Changes Life Thanksgiving event. It turned out my teammate’s parents, Gareth and Deirdre, were the founders of the Program. I talked with a lot of the scholars about what SCL was and it was something I was really interested in. I didn’t think I would even eligible since I have been out of college for more than a year. I applied anyway later in March and when I made it through the multiple rounds of interviews and was accepted to become a Victory Scholar I was so excited! Who wouldn't be excited to have the opportunity to play, coach, and get their masters in another country!? 

Even though this is my second time leaving my friends family to go to Ireland it is still hard to leave behind loved ones. They have all been so supportive of me with every decision I  have made. When I decided after a year of teaching that I wanted to give basketball a shot again my parents didn’t hesitate at all and asked what they could do to help. Even though leaving my friends for a year (now two) was going to be tough I tried to make the best of it by staying in touch. FaceTime because my new best friend for staying in touch with everybody. 

I loved my experience in Ireland last year that I knew I had to come back and when I found out about the Sport Changes Life program I saw my opportunity. I know how lucky I am to be able to start this new journey so I know that I am going to take advantage and do my best at what ever task is in front of me. I will most definitely miss playing with my former teammates and coaches from the Rockets but this opens up the doors to meet new people and live in a different part of Ireland!

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