FOR fear of not being able to return to the States in July to finish her soccer scholarship, Cork’s Michelle O’Driscoll chose to stay in the States during this pandemic, an option which was not easy, but one in which she hopes was the best decision.
“It was always the plan to finish college in May and come home then to see my family as we were planning a holiday to Spain, but of course now with everything that is going on, that is no longer happening,” said O’Driscoll.
“I thought about going home when we were released from college but I had some initial fears about what my re-entry would look like when I needed to get back to Texas so I decided to stay in the US. I’m very grateful that one of my team mates Makenna and her family were so kind to let me stay with them during this time as my plans may have been very different otherwise.”
O’Driscoll has just finished her two year stint at Daytona State College and is due to move to Texas where she will begin her third year in the States.
“I am due to move out to Texas around July for pre-season so all going well that’ll still go ahead and the season will go on as normal.
“I will be very disappointed if the season is cancelled or postponed in anyway, but there are some things bigger than football and this pandemic is definitely one of them.
“The NCAA who are the governing body of college sports has not made any decisions as of yet about what the season will look like so most athletes like myself are just waiting to see how things will play out.
“One of the biggest changes for me since Covid-19 has been having to move out of college.
“I decided to stay in the US and I moved in with a teammate of mine in Colorado where she’s from. The remainder of the Spring semester for me was spent doing my classes out here in Colorado.
“Makenna, the girl I’m staying with was our starting goalkeeper at Daytona, so since moving out to Colorado we have been training together almost every day.
“The fact that I’m a forward and she’s a goalkeeper works out well for both of us as we are both benefiting from training together.
“We both miss training in a team dynamic but it is important to be able to adapt and come up with new ways of achieving the same training we were getting before the disruptions.
“I have been receiving workouts from Daytona State to keep us ticking over during this time, so that has been very helpful to have something to keep somewhat of a routine.
“As Daytona State is a two year college, I will be continuing my academic and athletic career at a new school.
“I have decided to commit to The University of Texas, El Paso. Since all soccer seasons in America ended prematurely around March I have been able to join my new team in Zoom calls which have been very beneficial to me, as I can get to know the girls more and the culture that they have created there.
“It’s also nice because I now have access to their workouts so I can blend both Daytona’s and theirs together.”
So how has O’Driscoll adapted to training individually as opposed to daily with her squad? “It’s obviously a huge advantage living with a teammate, that definitely has helped me.
“Having someone who is in the same boat as you and wants to train everyday helps to motivate me to get out and make myself better.
“At the beginning of quarantine I was mostly working on fitness but now I have moved into more of a balance of fitness and ball work.
“I think this time should not be looked at as a negative, but as an opportunity to improve and become a better player.
“Now that I have finished at Daytona State my last two years of college will transfer to UTEP.
“I will go into UTEP as a third year student which is known here a Junior and have another two years there before completing my bachelor’s degree.
“I think there is good in every situation and you just have to look for it. The same goes for the Coronavirus.
“I believe the break from a regular schedule has allowed me to focus more on what I am trying to achieve in both college and on the pitch.
“Sometimes people get so caught up with life and are going a hundred miles an hour that they don’t get to focus on the little things that mean so much more.
“Although the pandemic has caused such tragedy in so many people’s lives, it also has some benefits as it has given me a moment to slow down and reevaluate.
“I’ve noticed that the restrictions here don’t seem to be as intense as home but they still exist. “Although most non-essential business are closed the likes of restaurants are still open to take out services.
“There is also very broad restrictions on travel from home as you can basically go wherever once you remain 6ft apart from others.
“So in that sense I think Ireland is definitely handling the situation better than here but I’m sure everyone is doing the best they can at the moment.
“For me it’s very hard not being with my family back home in Cork during this time but I call them almost every day so that definitely makes it a bit easier on all of us.
“I think the people of Ireland for the most part have responded so positively to what they are being told, so hopefully if everyone continues to do their part then we will all get over this and somewhat of normality will resume.”
The break from a regular schedule has allowed me to focus more on what I am trying to achieve in both college and on the pitch