Greg Dawson is a former FirstPoint USA Soccer Scholarship recipient, who is nearing the end of his 4 year academic and athletic lifestyle in Maine.
We caught up with Greg this week to reflect on his time in the USA, his plans after finishing University and what advice he has for any other talented young athletes considering a Sports Scholarship to the USA.
Can you tell us a bit about your sporting background pre-scholarship?
I was predominantly involved with athletics in school and I was pushing my way up at the top of the national rankings for long, triple and high jump as an U17, so I thought my future might lie in that, but I loved football too much to not play. I played on an extremely talented school team at Madras college and we were always winning our league and cup competitions, the highlight of which was getting to play at Hampden Park in Scottish senior cup final in 2007. My club team was also very talented, which had 99% of the same players on.
How did you find out about FirstPoint and what made you apply for a scholarship?
I was unsure what to do after school, didn’t want to quit sport and just go to uni and be a normal student, so someone told me I should look into scholarship options. So I Google’d it and applied to FirstPoint. I had a trail game and an interview which went well and so I was offered to be taken on by FirstPoint.
Were you happy with the offers you received? what made you choose Maine?
In total I think I received about a dozen offers to small NAIA schools all over the country. The communications with the Maine’s coaches left me feeling like that was the right decision for me … and in July I committed and booked my flights to the states in August, for preseason to start in mid august, it all was so fast once it got sorted.
Are you still glad you chose Maine?
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have experienced California or Florida, but the people in Maine and genuinely the nicest people I have ever met, and I wouldn’t change it if I did it again.
How did you find the FirstPoint process?
I thought it was a solid well organized process which guided me through as best as I could have asked for, as the American system is totally different that anything I’d experienced before. The only problem I had was when I wanted to transfer schools after two years, FirstPoint were a little reluctant to help me with that process, so I had to do most of it on my own, but once you are in the American system it is easy to learn how it works and what you are expected to do to progress.
How has your life changed since you moved to the US?
It has changed hugely, I never thought that I would be pursuing a career on that side of the world, but I have made some priceless contacts in my time which I hope will get me the foot in the door to the next level that anyone would be lucky enough to have.
What stage are you currently at in your studies?
I was due to graduate this past may, but due to my 2nd year transfer to a NCAA school, I lost some credits, so I just have one more semester to go back to before I graduate in December. but I am lucky enough to be involved with my team as an assistant coach this fall.
What have you achieved since you moved to the USA?
In terms of playing, I have improved vastly since I was a 17 year old school boy. I have matured physically and as a person, having to be away on the other side of the world straight off the bat from school makes you mature quick in the 4 years. I have had 4 All conference selections, twice in the NAIA Sunrise Conference – for the University of Maine, and Twice in NCAA North Atlantic Conference for Husson University. I have scored over 40 goals and had over 20 assists in my 4 years, which included an injury riddled year where I spent most of my time in the Training room. I also was lucky enough to win my conference and take first place in the playoff and advance to a trip to the NCAA D3 National Tournament, which is something I’ll never forget… and last summer I got the opportunity (through my coaches connections) to be a summer soccer academy coach at Dartmouth College, which was an unreal experience.
How have you managed your time between academics/athletics/social life?
I think I have nailed it spot on, I have done well in my degree Major which is no Business Administration-Sports Management (which is a degree that I could not have achieved in Scotland), and I have the best 4 years of my life in College.
How does the focus and popularity of athletics differ in the US to in the UK?
It is a different class, the American attitude towards athletics is far superior to the UK, the facility, the equipment, the medical and training staff… and the attitudes of the athletes, everyone knows in America that if you want to have a future in sports, that you have to go to college to play first and prove yourself.
What are the facilities like at Maine?
My first two seasons at Maine Machias, the facilities were less than what I was expecting, a little poor to be honest, that’s one of the reasons I left, but the last two years at Husson University I have been lucky to have an incredible athletic training department, play on perfect astro-turf pitches and immaculate grass fields.
What are your plans when you finish Uni?
I’m not sure at the moment, I am currently trying to find a way that I can have an extension added to my visa so that I can stay in the states for an extended period of time, I’d like to stay to be involved in sports over there as it far superior to sport in the UK.
Do you have any advice for those considering a sports scholarship?
DO IT!.. best decision you’ll make, if I could do it again, I would.
Would you recommend FirstPoint USA?
I would recommend first point definitely, they know what they are doing and they have proven that they can do it time and time again, producing success stories such as mine.
Are you ready to take the next step towards securing a soccer scholarship like Greg? Apply here for your assessment!