August 23rd, 2018 | NEWS

The Sport Changes Life Foundation is proud to announce ‘Class of 2019 of the Victory Scholars’.

Designed in partnership with the charity’s founding university partner Ulster University, the Victory Scholar Program brings hope to young people in local communities through alternative forms of education in teamwork, sport and confidence delivered by the prestigious group of American student-athletes, who will also pursue postgraduate degrees during their time here.  This year’s class of 34 Victory Scholars have been carefully selected to work in our community outreach programmes such as EHOOPS and Honour Role programme.

In eleven years together with our founding partners Ulster University and Chaka Travel our Victory family of 134 student-athletes will have earned a Post Graduate Masters degree and helped raise the aspirations of young people on the Island of Ireland all while continuing to play the sport that they love by the end of the 2019 academic year.

The Victory Scholars Program consists of student-athletes who have excelled in their academics and sport, primarily basketball and in recent years golf, in American Universities during their undergraduate studies.  Through a rigorous selection process, these future leaders progress to study in our partnering Universities and Higher Education Institutes for postgraduate Master degrees across the Island of Ireland while putting their extensive knowledge of their sport, team building, and mentorship into practice in our communities across the island.  The Victory Scholars legacy has helped strengthen the level of basketball being played at a grassroots level and continues to leave a lasting impact in continuing to build relationships which help provide a vital outlet for confidence building and, in many cases, mentoring young people toward their own future victory.

Reflecting on the incredible success of Sport Changes Life Victory Scholars Program, Gareth Maguire, CEO and Co-Founder of Sport Changes Life said,

“We are so proud of how far the Sport Changes Life Victory Scholar Program has come and truly feel that these next few years will be the most exciting. This year we welcome 34 Victory Scholars to our shores which will allow us to help have a huge impact on so many young people in our local communities.  We are so happy to continue to inspire young people with our great partner Rory McIlroy and the Rory Foundation. Our common goal of raising the aspirations of young people together has went from strength to strength during our partnership. We have also seen great growth in our local university partners placing our 34 Victory Scholars across 13 Universities and Higher Education Institutions across the island of Ireland. With this growth, it is a very exciting time for the future of our young people and as we have the return of the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic, we now have a huge platform to inspire young people and show the world what our great country and young people have to offer.”

The success of the Program has been emphasised with our partnership with the Rory Foundation, Chief Executive Barry Funston commended Sport Changes Life for its work to further develop local community outreach initiatives, making a significant impact to young lives and acting as a force for positive change.

Barry Funston, CEO of the Rory Foundation, said;

“Once again, we are delighted that the Victory Scholars will come to Ireland and Northern Ireland to deliver meaningful change to disadvantaged young people. The work of the previous Victory Scholars has been hugely beneficial to communities across the country and we are particularly pleased a record number of 34 Victory Scholars will travel over this year. I wish them all well during their stay here over the next ten months.”

In addition to their roles as local ambassadors for sport and as team builders and mentors for young people island-wide, the Victory Scholars also take on a unique role as ambassadors for the upcoming Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic presented by Sport Changes Life, which will take place 29th -30th November and 1st December 2018 at the SSE Arena, Belfast. The three-day basketball event will welcome eight American universities as they go head-to-head to compete in competitive collegiate basketball tournament outside of America.

This year’s class launch event will take place in Poughkeepsie, New York State at Marist College one of the participating schools in the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.


For media queries and to organize interviews with your local Sport Changes Life Victory Scholar contact:

Sam Woodside Victory Scholar Coordinator  +442890454964




LOCAL UNIVERSITY            US SCHOOL                                          US CONFERENCE


Founding Partner Ulster University

Jenna Kaufman             Seton Hill University                             Pennsylvania State Athletic Con

Kollyns Scarbrough       Siena College                                       Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Michael Riopel              Amherst College                                    New England Small College Athletic Conference

Shay Ajayi                     Trinity College                                      New England Small College Athletic Conference

Phillip Johnston            University of Dayton                              Atlantic 10

Mark Kilpatrick             Concordia College                                 CCAC



Daniel Noe                   Randolph-Macon College                       Old Dominion Athletic Conference

Ellen Graham                Lafayette College                                  Patriot League

Alyssa Velles                 Saint Peter’s University                         Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference



Allyson Esielionis          Salve Regina University                         Commonwealth Coast Conference

Marissa Howard            Goldey – Beacon College                       CACC


Letterkenny (LYIT)

Spencer Williams         The College of Wooster                        North Coast Athletic Conference

Jaelynn Tweedy            Georgian Court University                   Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference

Adiya Henderson          St. Thomas                                           East Coast Conference (ECC)

Cullen Donovan            Rivier University                                   Greater North East Athletics Conference


Trinity College

Rebecca Rabiero          Dominican College                               CACC

Simone Hobdy              Adelphi University                                Northeast – 10



Connor McClenaghan   Marist College                                      Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Zachary Yonda              Swarthmore College                             Centennial Conference



Jamie Sherburne          Niagra University                                  Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference


Limerick (LIT)

Andrew Curiel              College of Mount Saint Vincent              Skyline Conference

Taylor Williams             Manhattan College                                Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Matthew Scamuffo       York College of Pennsylvania                Capital Athletic Conference



Kayla Morrissey            Grinnell College                                    Midwest Conference

Amy Hasenauer            College of the Holy Cross                     Patriot League

Thomas Rivard              Colgate University                                Patriot League



Garrett Collins              University of North Carolina                  Greensboro Southern Conference

Royce Paris                   Skidmore College                                 Liberty League



Samantha Hyslip           Stonehill College                                  Northeast – 10

Adashya Williams         Sacred Heart University                        Northeast Conference


Carlow IT

Courtney Walsh            Stonehill College                                  Northeast – 10

John McCarthy             Amherst College                                   New England Small College Athletic Confefence


Cork IT

Justus Melton               Dickinson College                                 Centennial Conference

Patricia Byrne               College of the Holy Cross                     Patriot League



Sport Changes Life Victory Scholars Breakdown of Gender, Sports and Universities in Northern Ireland and Ireland:

18 Female & 16 Male

32 basketball & 2 golf

One golfer from Manchester, UK. First VS from outside of US. (Mark Kilpatrick)

13 Irish Universities involved. (UU, Waterford, Athlone, Letterkenny LYIT, Trinity, Sligo, Maynooth, Limerick LIT, NUIG Galway, Dundalk, DCU, Carlow, Cork IT)


About Sport Changes Life Foundation: The primary goal of SCL is to provide an opportunity for raising the aspiration of young people on both sides of the Atlantic so that they can live out their dreams and guide them as sport changes their lives.  We are a sports foundation built on inspiration, hope and victory.  SCL works in disadvantaged communities to help young people find a path to a brighter future with the help of our international student-athletes, the Victory Scholars.  In February 2016, SCL formally partnered with The Rory Foundation as both foundations strive together to help change the lives of young people on the island of Ireland and beyond.

About the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic: NCAA Division I College basketball is coming back to Belfast, Northern Ireland for 2018. The Sport Changes Life Foundation (SCLF) in partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) will host its second ‘Belfast Classic’ in The SSE Arena, Belfast on November 29th, 30th and 1st December 2018.

The tournament will be broadcast live across America. The 2018 event will feature an expanded field to eight schools. The schools will compete in two four-team brackets, with University campus round games in America leading into two tournament brackets in Belfast aptly named ‘Samson’ and ‘Goliath’ after the iconic Harland and Wolfe cranes in the Titanic quarter shipyard of Belfast.

The field for the 2018 event is as follows: University at Albany (America East Conference), University at Buffalo (Mid-American Conference), Dartmouth College (Ivy League), LIU Brooklyn (Northeast Conference), Marist College (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Horizon League), University of San Francisco (West Coast Conference) and Stephen F. Austin State University (Southland Conference).




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