Brenna McPartlan - Becoming a Student Athlete in America
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
By the end of my time at Man City, I knew it wasn’t beneficial for me to carry on playing development football, I needed a new challenge and to step outside my comfort zone. I had a few options, to play football for a team around the bottom of the WSL 1 at the time, a team in Europe who usually make the early rounds of the Champions League and to go to the USA were some of them.
What stood out about the USA was a chance to play soccer every single day as well as getting a degree at the same time. This, along with the American lifestyle and experience is something I just had to try. I made my decision telling myself that if it’s not for me, I will just come home. I just needed to step outside my comfort zone and try it.
Going to the University of South Alabama was a huge transition for me. It was a huge culture shock, especially being in Alabama, which is a very southern state. I had a tough first semester in terms of being homesick. I missed my family, friends, and dogs a lot in the beginning. However, I got through that and started to enjoy myself. Soccer wise, I loved training every single day and especially loved playing two games in a week, even though it was physically tough. We had great facilities to
train in, and all the resources we needed.
Soccer wise, South Alabama were very dominant in our conference, winning our
conference twice out of the three years I was there as well as making the NCAA tournament twice. I loved our soccer style, which was mainly due to my three coaches who were all from the UK. The biggest transition was how athletic the players are in college soccer. It was a shock to the system how high the required fitness levels were. Playing in the 30-degree heat was extremely tough too.
Individually, I had a great 3 years, winning freshman of the year along with 1st team all-conference twice and 2nd team all-conference once. Outside of soccer, I lived close to the beach which was great, and I got to travel and visit many new places. My favourite trip was flying in a private Jet to New Orleans for the weekend. Overall, I had an amazing few years at South Alabama, I met some of my best
friends and experienced some of the best memories.
If I went back to the time of leaving Man City, I wouldn’t have changed any of my
decisions or choices. I’m very grateful to South Alabama for all the opportunities they gave me and for all the people I met during my time there.
In part 3, Brenna talks about the move she made to Louisiana State University (LSU) which is one of the athletic powerhouses in the NCAA D1.