Four years ago, I was entering my freshman year of college at Colgate University to play for the women’s basketball team. At the time, I was scared of the unknown world of collegiate athletics, dorm rooms, and freshmen dining halls. I did not handle my first year well, and I spent most days worrying about what could go wrong with school, sports, or friends. Fast forward through the next three years and I made some of the greatest friends and memories anyone could ever ask for. Now off to start on a new journey I have been thinking about how to get the most out of the year without the fears I had my freshman year. For starters, four years ago I did not have enough confidence in myself to get through a tough day or a tough practice without overcoming whatever obstacle was in my way. In addition to that, whenever I had a hard day I immediately forgot why I came to college to play basketball in the first place. With all of that in mind, I wanted to come to Sport Changes Life with a positive mindset and a clear vision for what I hoped to get out of this program. As I said my final goodbyes to my family and hopped on my plane, I challenged myself to take this opportunity to not think about myself, or my own nerves. I want to use this opportunity to give back to basketball what basketball has given to me.
Now two weeks into training with Sport Changes Life, I am getting a clear picture of what the goals of the program are, and how to achieve these goals. I have also seen the impact that we as Victory Scholars can have on the children we work with. Towards the end of our first day in Belfast we were able to work with a girls soccer team with the E-hoops program. This program allows us Scholars to sit in a classroom with these girls and have a conversation about anything from what it is like to grow up in Belfast/Boston or what their favourite TV show is. This portion lasted about 45 minutes and after we were able to do some relay races, and play both basketball and soccer with the girls. By the end of this session, I felt so much closer to these girls and began to get a sense of what it is like to live in Belfast. A few days later we had the chance to visit Wood Green Care Home. This was one of my favorite visits we did in our ten days in Belfast because we got to learn so much from every person we talked to. One moment that sticks out in my mind is when a few of us scholars sang “Welcome To My World” with one of the men living in Wood Green.
These two short experiences have given me a small taste of what is to come for the rest of the year, and what I have to look forward to. This upcoming year I will be studying at Limerick Institute of Technologyto get a degree in Digital Marketing. At the same time I will also be playing basketball and more importantly, working within the community in Limerick. I am so excited and humbled to be a part of this program, and I know I will enjoy every aspect of being a Victory Scholar. This blog will be a welcome to my world in Ireland, and I am excited to keep updating for friends and family back home!