Friday, January 15, 2021

Fresh from bringing us up to date with her experiences of playing in the Womens National League for Wexford Youths towards the end of last season, Blessing Kingsley continues her Blessing’s Blog series as she embarks on a new chapter in her career, and life, in America at the University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi, where Blessing Kingsley is now a student

AS my last day quickly approached, I began my final preparations as I was due to leave my home country, Ireland, for the longest time in my life so far. From a sports point of view, my main focus was to continue my home workouts and conditioning, because in my mind, every single day absolutely matters. But without a doubt, the majority of the work is done behind the scenes, and most importantly long before it’s time to show it. Every single training session that I had with Wexford Youths during my last season, was preparing me for this new adventure.

Although, from a family perspective, my last couple of days were a lot less intense and more focused on enjoying some traditional food and making some final memories until I return in the summer. With a family so small (my Mom, my sister and I) and close-knit, it’s difficult to think about the amount of time I’ll be away from home. But I know it’s a sacrifice I need to make in order to improve so I can be ready for the next level!

After a long day of straight traveling and staying up for 24 hours in total, I arrived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi shorty before midnight last Thursday. Too tired to even remember my own name, I got some sleep in order to prepare for the long day ahead of me.

My first full day had an early start (something I’ll have to get used to as a college student athlete). I went through most of the things you don’t normally see showcased about the student athlete experience. Things like blood tests, vaccines, setting up your PO Box and student ID, learning about your Visa status and due to these unprecedented times, COVID-19 testing was a must.

It wasn’t until Saturday that I got the time to finally chat and get to know some of the girls on my team. Just like any team, it’s filled with individuals from every type of background. There’s girls who know Mississippi as their home state, there’s others from across the whole country, and there’s others, like me, who are thousands of miles away from home and are missing family from places like Slovakia, South Africa, Germany and so many more. It wasn’t until then that I realised just how lucky I am to be in my position, to be able to attend a college where people will leave their home and all they’ve ever known just to take represent the University of Southern Mississippi. And although I may not get the chance to play competitively in matches this season. I will definitely be grateful for the opportunity to train and improve, and to get one step closer to my dream.

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