I first started playing football at around 4 years old, which was pretty young, but I was always involved with the sport as so many of my family members were involved in the game. It was natural for me to start playing.
At 16, I joined a sports academy for sixth-form which was such a great opportunity to continue my studies, whilst also seeing where football could take me. I had such a great coach and a few friends who joined also, which made it such a great decision for me.
I first realised that football could become more than just a hobby when I joined the first ladies team at Stevenage FC. This was when I decided I was going to shoot my shot with making it more than just a Saturday morning hobby.
I applied for American universities through an agency called United Sports USA, who helped me throughout the entire process. Firstly, my teammates and I went to a trial for United Sports USA, where they filmed the game and decided to take me on board. I then sat an SAT exam, different from the SATs we have in the UK! Whilst I was doing this, the agency had produced a highlight reel of me playing football, sending the tape and my results to different universities. Those who were interested contacted me and we set up a Skype call which gave me the chance to meet my coaches, ask questions and vice versa. From there, I chose Davis and Elkins College, West Virginia.
My family were really pleased for me, but my Mum was slightly anxious, understandably, I’m sure most Mums would be! However, everyone showed me so much support and it made the whole process so much easier. I couldn’t have asked for more.
My biggest inspirations in the football world have to be people like Kanté, Zlatan, Ronaldinho and Iniesta.
A typical day for me tends to look like this:
During the season, we sometimes have to be up and at the pitch by 6 am for practice, meaning it is a super early start to the day. For breakfast, I’d normally grab eggs, toast and avocado or porridge depending on what I fancy and what they have at the campus cafe on the day. I always make sure to have a piece of fruit in the morning also.
In season, we will often train 5 days a week, with one game day, and one rest day. On season, our training could be anything from technical drills to weight sessions. Off-season (spring) we focus a lot more on conditioning and preparing for the season. Every week we usually play two games, one midweek and one on the weekend. I usually play CDM (centre defensive midfield), CM (centre midfield), or CAM (centre attacking midfield) and sometimes drop into left-back when needed.
It is very popular at American Universities to have a cafe where everyone eats, which is different from the UK. For lunch, I usually grab a chicken or fish dish with rice/ pasta and vegetables. I often pop to the salad bar also! I try to make sure my lunch includes a good amount of protein and some kind of healthy carbs.
After lunch, I will often return to training, or get to my classes depending on the day. On top of being a student athlete, I am also a full time student studying Sports Management and Business.
Dinner is similar to lunch, but sometimes I opt for a chicken or turkey wrap. I like to mix it up sometimes, as, at the cafe, they often have different themed meals such as Mexican nights or Thanksgiving!
During the season, everyone wants to be in their best shape so we can outplay our opponents. During the season we all stay away from drinking, and unhealthy lifestyles, as the players are all responsible and try and take care of their bodies. If we have an intense week of training, I might pass on extra gym sessions, but I usually enjoy going down to the pitch for a kick about with my teammates just for fun and to get a few extra touches on the ball!
Being an international student-athlete
Thankfully, at my university, there are so many international students that I have been lucky enough to meet and feel so privileged to be able to learn about all different cultures and ways of living. Being English, Americans usually love our accent which is great! I have felt so welcomed here, it’s a home from home for me and that’s all down to the lovely people I have met.
Being a student-athlete in America has been a dream come true. It has given me the opportunity to meet so many new people and other student-athletes who are just like me. My team is full of amazing people, and they’re always so supportive. They’re always encouraging me to do my best and be the best I can be. I was also blessed to have a very supporting coach on and off the field, which makes all the difference.
The friendships within the team are so strong, more like family than anything else, on and off the pitch. I have made friends for life without a doubt here, which I am eternally grateful for. We all have so much respect for each other which makes it such a nice community to be apart of.
Since starting uni, my proudest moment had to be when the team won against Findlay which meant we could be rated nationally! I was also so proud when I scored the golden goal in my freshman year, and in the same game, my best friend, Roxy, scored the opening goal!
My best advice to anyone who wants to be a student-athlete is to be prepared to work hard and remain focussed on your academics as well as your sport! Try to avoid distractions and as cliche as it sounds, enjoy it! Every single moment!
Chase your dreams, they do come true.