A YOUNG Dromore hockey player has been awarded a sports scholarship to attend the University of Richmond in Virginia.
Eighteen-year-old Kerri McDonald will take up the scholarship this August where she will continue to train as a hockey player as well as studying for her degree. She is Head Girl at Banbridge Academy.
Kerri’s skills as a field hockey player have already been shown by playing for the Ulster 21s Squad, Ireland U18 squad and was also voted as the Firstpoint USA athlete of the month!
Kerri secured her scholarship through Glasgow based FirstPoint USA; the largest sports scholarship consultants in the world. FirstPoint USA uses its extensive network in the US and acts as an intermediary between talented athletes and college coaches.
Kerri said, “It is very overwhelming having many different colleges contact you and choosing a University isn’t easy! Especially when it’s in a different country!!
“I managed to narrow my choices down to four colleges that were all so different and I then was lucky enough to go and visit them all over half term. While competing at a local competition over Winter, I was approached by the Assistant coach at the University of Richmond who is actually from Northern Ireland and doesn’t live far from me.
“I then considered it as one of my options and was extremely impressed by the college. I currently have a former Irish team mate who is there on a scholarship and coincidentally another Ulster and Irish team mate will join me in my freshman year.”
“I started playing hockey at the age of 8 for my local club, Dromore. I played for the U10 age group, before quickly making my first appearance for my province, Ulster, aged 12. Following this I played Senior League hockey from the age of 13 where I continued to develop through various different squads, and due to the wonderful coaches and the players around me. I earned my first Irish U16 cap when I was 15, playing against Belgium on home turf in 2009.”
Aisling Coyle from FirstPoint USA said: “We wish Kerri all the best in her new career. American colleges are keen to attract the very best sporting talent from across the world and our experience and long standing relationships with over 2,500 colleges from Hawaii in the west to New York in the East lets us provide the very best advice to any young athlete who has aspirations of living, studying and training in the US.”
On average, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) offer 126,000 sports scholarships every year worth a total of $1 billion. Around 8,500 UK students head to the US every year to study as part of the country’s extensive scholarship programme.
Scholarships are regularly awarded to students with skills in football, tennis, golf and athletics as well as swimming, hockey and ten pin bowling.
A sports scholarship to a US university can cover a percentage, sometimes all, of the costs associated with earning a university degree.
In return, the student-athlete will represent the university in their respective sport and maintain a good level of academic performance.