IT’S her second year playing soccer in the States but former Cork City player Michelle O’Driscoll from Shandon Street was happy to be home for Christmas.
She’s enjoyed the break on Leeside but is looking forward to returning as a sophomore at Daytona State College.
“The States has been absolutely amazing where I have developed as a player and as a person and although I love being home for Christmas, I must say I love life in the States,” said O’Driscoll.
She is a returning sophomore in the Daytona State College Women’s Soccer Program where they compete nationally at the NJCAA level. Over the course of last year, they were consistently ranked within the top 10 in the country and this followed through to this season.
“As a freshman, I came into the squad as a centre forward and started the majority of the games we played. This year was even better as I was lucky enough to start in all 12 of the games we played.
“During pre-season and season we are kept very busy with training, games and school. But once the season ends we do have much more spare time to spend doing whatever we want.”
There is plenty to occupy them in the Daytona Beach and Orlando area.
“Usually we would either go to the beach in Daytona or maybe shopping in the international outlets in Orlando which is only like 45 minutes from us.
“Other than going out we sometimes stay home in our three-bedroom town house.”
“That was definitely a good incentive to work hard in the classroom. I also live with three other girls who are on the soccer team.
“The town home I live in is in an estate with other athletes from the college so it’s always good craic out the front when everyone is out.
“This season we had a new Freshmen class of 13 girls join us.”
Included in that was fellow Corkonian, Megan Sheehan.
“It’s great to see another Irish girl representing Cork and Ireland Stateside. Having Meg here has been great because coming from the same place we have a lot in common and we forever discuss our cravings for a creole from KCs.
“Meg had a great season this year and I’ll miss not playing with her next year as I move on to another college. I’m very proud of how she has adapted to her new life in the US and how she’ll continue to fly the flag long after I’ve left.”
Daytona State is only a two-year college so after this season she’ll be continuing her academic and athletic career at another college.
“At this point, I have been talking to a variety of schools throughout the colleges and as the new year comes around, I hope to make my final decision about where I will commit soon.
“The two years I’ve had at DSC are very valuable to me as when I transfer I will go into my new college as a junior (third year student) so I will have two years of American soccer and college classes under my belt.
“This is something that is very attractive to college coaches as they know that as a junior you know the expectations and what the demand of college and soccer is and most importantly be able to balance them meticulously.”
She is hoping to major in business as she has been taking business-orientated classes for the past two years.
“When I was home last Christmas I had the opportunity to train with the Irish national team in a home-based training camp.
“This was an amazing opportunity which fortunately led to more as I returned home again in February to meet up with the Irish U19 team for a week-long training camp in Meath.
“From my performance in this camp I was selected in the final squad who travelled to Spain in April 2019 for the Elite round of the European Championships. I really enjoyed the experience and was delighted to start in our first game against Hungary, in which we won.
“To be back involved with the Irish setup again was very rewarding for me as I have been working hard to be involved again and it was great to see my hard-work recognised.”
The Christmas break offered the opportunity to spend some much needed time with family and friends.
“I’m going to take a week or so to catch up with everyone and then it will be back to work as I will continue to train over the Christmas break. Head coach, Brittney Jones has made us a winter fitness package which is important for our continued success over the next six weeks.
“She continuously reiterates the importance of family in our life and understands the balance that needs to exist between soccer and family.
“My second year in the US has been another success and I’m still so happy that I made the decision to move over two years ago.”
Having to grow up so quickly shaped the person she now is.
“Nothing has phased me to-date. I’m continuously grateful to my family and close friends who continue to support me on my journey, especially my parents, Liz and Niall.
“They are always there for me in more ways than they think and that is something that makes living in America so easy for me.”