Can’t imagine a student life that isn’t sporting? SCSU and its surrounding area has lots to offer you as a Study Abroad student. Rupert French gets off the sofa to investigate…

University sports are different in America. They’re celebrated highly and the funding for them is (justifiably, depending on who you ask) large, especially in IMG_1212comparison to our own. Part of this is due to the way athletes are prepared for professional sports over there. Basketball, Hockey and American Football, especially, recruit through scholarships and the move in professional sports comes after college. Passing grades are still required to maintain a scholarship, and the culture of professional athletes means that young men and women are not immediately scouted and paid huge sums of money from an early age. So it’s a system that is at least designed to produce athletes who are educated and well-adjusted, and so prepared for the possibility that they may not succeed in the professional sports world.

Thought they were flying the Everton flag. But it's SCSU
Yup, I thought they were flying the Everton flag too. But it’s SCSU.

When I met with Tom Lang, SCSU’s Head Soccer Coach (and Everton fan), he was keen to start talking about LJMU students being able to go over and join the team. You might be a student who can play soccer, female or male, who could head over for pre-season, and trial for one of the bigger second division university teams in the country. I asked him some questions about the footballing ‘culture’ in Connecticut, of which it seems is at a grass roots level. The American focus on sports from as early as high school means that when soccer is popular in an area, you will even get well-attended league games for under 16s and below.

Americans often get interested in soccer by following the biggest English Premier League teams, ‘adopting’ the bigger clubs who play near to where they have ancestors: Manchester United and City, Liverpool, Chelsea and …  well – watch this space for Leicester City.

Soccer pre-season starts on August 15th. If your team is successful, your season runs through until the first week of December, playing a minimum of two games a week. If it’s not, you do not progress to the Championship and your season ends earlier.

For each of the major university sports, there are three divisions in which a college can play, and these are based on each University’s capability of giving athletic support and assistance. There is no promotion or relegation: those in the first division are the bigger universities with the most money funding for sports and athletes. They can have stadiums of up to 12,000, but this is usually for hockey, basketball or (American) football of course. Soccer has yet to get quite that kind of acclaim.

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As a Division 2 side, this is what Mr Lang and his assistant coach Paul Templeton call a ‘small’ basketball facility
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Imagine sitting here, cheering on the SCSU Owls with your new buddies… Now, I know it’s silly to get excited about the giant owl on the floor but, where oh where is the LJMU Liver Bird on our Mighty Ducks style sports hall?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re interested in selling out and heading out to the big leagues, that’s fair enough, but don’t forget to support your own college team, you’ll have a hoot!

With New York City only a short train ride away, you can visit Yankee stadium for both baseball and soccer. The newly established New York City FC already have a decent rivalry with New York Red Bulls. NYRB play in New Jersey which is a bit of a trek by train so I would try for the Yankee stadium where you can see Andre Pirlo spray long balls from his Laz-e-boy and Frank Lampard desperately trying to score as many goals as he can so Christine Bleakley doesn’t make him sleep on the sofa again. But if you’ve found a friend with a car who doesn’t mind a trip to New Jersey (the Wirral of New York), then click here for New York Red Bulls tickets and the genuinely surprising rise of Bradley Wright-Phillips.

But there are other sports you say? That may well be… You might fancy a trip to Madison Square Garden to see Chandler’s favourite The New York Knicks? Click here!

 

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