10 Reasons You Should Apply to the Victory Scholar Program

Posted By: AllysonEsielionis
Posted On: March 4th, 2019
Attending: Athlone Institute of Technology

When I was first recommended to apply to be a Victory Scholar, I didn’t really know a lot about the program. Committing to live in a different country for a whole year was definitely something I wasn’t sure I could do. Being here for 6 months now, I can say with confidence that this is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. If you’re unsure like I was at first, or are curious as to what kind of opportunities this program offers, here are my top 10 reasons you should apply to the Victory Scholar Program.

  1. You get to continue playing basketball.

If you’re reaching the end of your college basketball career, there is a good chance that you’ve been playing this sport for a majority of your life and fell in love with it a long time ago. Senior year is hard in the fact that you can see the doors closing on your career much quicker than you’d like to see. The Victory Scholar program allows you to keep these doors open a bit longer and puts you in a position to appreciate basketball in a new light.

2. You get the opportunity to continue your education.

Let’s face it, school is expensive. At the same time, the job market is getting increasingly competitive. The Victory Scholar program gives you a chance to earn your Master’s degree, which makes your resume stand out that much more (besides being able to say you lived abroad for a year). The international perspective the education here provides is also amazingly helpful in that it allows you to look at issues differently than we may see them at home.

3. You’re able to gain coaching experience.

The part I’ve enjoyed most during my time here is by far the opportunity to coach in my local club. I’ve loved this game since the first time I picked up a basketball and it has been so inspiring to now be able to pass down my knowledge and experiences to the next generation of players. I’ve had the chance to work kids that are extremely skilled and those who are just starting out and the passion and excitement from both sides of the spectrum is unreal. It has really helped me to appreciate the game I love from a new perspective as I start to hang up my sneakers and (hopefully) pick up my white board.


4. You’re introduced to so many new people.

I have met so many wonderful people since arriving here in August. When we first got here we got to spend time with the Sport Changes Life crew and the whole group of Victory Scholars, all of which are such a genuinely amazing group of people. Once arriving in Athlone, I was introduced to my new coaches, teammates, the Athlone Basketball Club, and our very own Irish family. I have made life long friends here in Athlone and Tullamore that I never expected to do in such a short amount of time. They have made Marisa and I’s team here so special and I cannot thank them enough for every thing they’ve done for us since being here.

5. You get to be apart of the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.

Being apart of the Belfast Classic has been one of the most fun times since being here. It was so great seeing all of the kids turn out to watch this high level of basketball being played in this country. I got the chance to be a team liaison during this week and made so many great connections through the people I was working with. This tournament is definitely growing and I can’t wait to see the progress it makes in the upcoming years.

6. You get the chance to explore the country.

Ireland is an absolutely beautiful country. Whenever we get some downtime we’re able to explore wherever interests us. Whether you like the city or scenic views, there is most definitely a place for you here. My favorite spot I’ve been to so far is by far the Cliffs of Moher. I thought my Cliff Walk in Newport was beautiful until I saw those views.


7. You have the opportunity to travel through Europe.

While I opted to go home over Christmas break, a lot of the scholars took their time off to explore more of Europe. They went to a bunch of different countries and had a great time exploring and adventuring. It’s very easy to country hop from Ireland and definitely affordable as well!

8. You get to try new food, or not if you don’t want to.

Let me start off by saying I really love food. This is one of the things I was most nervous for when I accepted my spot as a Victory Scholar. I can honestly say the food here is not as bad as some people may try to warn you about. While you definitely have the opportunity to try things like black pudding if you want to, they have “normal” food too if you don’t. I have honestly found the food here to be much healthier than most of my options at home. While there are definitely snacks and meals I miss from home, there are so many new foods I’ve tried here and really loved!

9. You get a year to collect your thoughts.

Graduating college can be scary, especially if you’re unsure of what you want to do. For me, I had an idea of where I wanted to be in 5 years but unsure of how to really get there. This year gives you some more time to sort out your goals and develop a plan on how to achieve them. In fact, my time here has allowed me to further identify what it is I want to do with my life and has definitely given me solid resume builders to help me get there.

10. You will be left with life long memories and stories of the year you spent in Ireland.

I have three more months in Ireland as a Victory Scholar and I’m not quite ready to talk about my time here ending. I have had some of the best adventures here with some of the most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I can honestly say I will remember my time here forever and will look back with happiness that I lived it and sadness that it had to end. Not everyone is able to say they played basketball in another country, lived abroad, got their Master’s or touched the lives of kids through sports. However, you can say all of those things and then some as a Victory Scholar.


I hope my Top 10 Reasons have given you some insight on some of the opportunities you’ll have as a Victory Scholar. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any of the other Scholars. Don’t forget to follow Sport Changes Life on Instagram and Snapchat to give you a little glimpse into our daily lives through our weekly social media takeovers!


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