Going into my junior year of high school, I was looking for a showcase camp and found that the university had a summer program. However, there weren’t enough players to fill the camp so they had to cancel it.
Instead, I was put in contact with the coach of the Missouri ODP coach, who was bringing a team to the campus for a showcase trip that summer. So I flew out to St. Louis to meet him and the guys, and play in a game before being accepted on this trip.
The programme had everything I was looking for when it came to assessing my options for college. It gave me the opportunity to play football year-round in another country, very knowledgeable coaches that all had previous experiences as players and coaching in the Football League, showcase games and trips across Europe, and a great educational programme to go along with the football.
I’d say one of my favorite highlights was going to Norway for the first time and playing outside on a turf pitch surrounded by snow and ice in freezing temperatures. It was probably the coldest I have ever been on a pitch, but the entire trip was a great experience from playing the games to walking around Kristiansand.
My decision to join RIASA was probably one of the best choices I made. From a football aspect, I was able to grow my knowledge on the game that I never thought was possible. The coaches were very helpful in helping me improve my game from the first day I stepped onto the field until graduation.
From an educational aspect, I was able to understand the different paths I can take that would allow me to stay within football and sport if a playing career was not in the cards for me. Whether that was getting an FA Level 2 coaching badge to start a coaching career or working in a front office, there were many ways to still be a part of the game.
My dream was always to become a professional footballer, but the teachers and coaches continued to push me to become both a better player and well-rounded student to prepare me for a life off the pitch.
Once I graduated, I moved to London to continue my education at Loughborough University’s London campus. I would go on to achieve a masters in Sport Business and Innovation, and learn about how technology and analytics continues to change the sport and improve athlete performances.
After graduating for Loughborough, I decided to go traveling around Europe and Africa before coming home to coach football at my high school on Long Island and start working as a marketing research analyst for the Arizona Cardinals.
Today, I am working at the NBC Sports Group as a Program Research Analyst uncovering consumer habits across many sports, including the EPL and NHL, across several networks from the national station to the regional networks across the country.
My job is to pull data from the company’s databases and show how a programme or game performs from its TV ratings and social media interactions. This was a great opportunity to stay in the football world and contribute to the sport in a different way than I could’ve imagined when starting at RIASA.