How going to the USA can enhance your sporting career

Head of Sixth Form, Matt Brimson, looks at how going to a US university has been transformative for some of our sporting alumni and how West Buckland is working with Aspire to support more students looking to follow that path.

Sporting Alumni

A number of alumni from West Buckland School have gone on to enjoy fantastic sporting careers, including the likes of Craig and Jamie Overton, Jonathan Edwards and Victor Ubogu. Other talented sports men and women have reached competitive levels without necessarily making a living out of it. Very few of these alumni in the last twenty years have even considered, let along, gone to the USA to develop their skills and experiences.

Transformative Experience for Tom

For those who have, it has been a transformative experience. The focus is usually on track and field athletics; there have been three I can think of in the past eighteen years, including Izzy Wakefield in the heptathlon, whose progress we are eagerly following. We also have one alumn who is currently in the USA. Tom Whiteley, a 2020 leaver. He describes his experience here:

“I am one and a half years into my mechanical engineering degree and I’m enjoying my busy student-athlete life playing squash at the University of Rochester, New York. We train for about 15 hours a week and have had the opportunity to travel across the country, such as to New York, Boston, San Diego, and Philadelphia. Studying mechanical engineering as well as training is challenging, but possible but I like to be productive, and I can do this whilst enjoying my time with my friends. Living away from England hasn’t once scared me!”

Many students consider studying abroad but do not follow through on this. We would like that to change and be part of a growing national trend where very talented athletes (and academics) are turning to the USA rather than the increasingly competitive, and sometimes frustrating, UK higher education system.

The introduction of the IB’s Career-related Programme (IBCP), in Sixth Form, as well as A-levels, from September 2023, provides a real opportunity for those wishing to consider a different experience. This pathway has been officially recognised by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) International Committee in the USA as proof of high school graduation and opens new doors for CP student-athletes to join higher education in the US. For more information, please click here. See our Sixth Form brochure for subjects offered.

Working with Aspire USA

To help us, we have teamed up with Aspire USA, a sports scholarship company supporting schools and students in exploring the opportunities to study and play sport at a US college. Head consultant, Brett Taylor, says:

“We are excited to be working in partnership with West Buckland School and looking forward to presenting to students and parents in December. We hope to educate and support those that are interested.”

Brett is making reference to his presentation at our sports scholar event on Wednesday 7th December. He will be in school from lunchtime until the presentation in the early evening. During this time, he will meet aspiring athletes, sports scholars or not, who have an interest in pursuing this exciting option.

How Aspire are helping Ben

Brett will also catch up with Ben Crosby in Year 13 who has recently received an offer of a scholarship at Lindenwood University, Missouri, one of the top locations in the country for rugby. This has been a big decision for Ben and his family, but extremely exciting. Ben says:

“I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to play and compete with the best. The facilities are among the most advanced in the world and I’m looking forward to experiencing a new culture. Doing something which not many students from West Buckland have done before me is exciting and I would encourage anyone in my position to have the mindset that it can be done, so go for it.”