How has my sports history impacted my professional story? | WorldStrides Sports Travel

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We asked members of the WorldStrides Sports team to share their thoughts on how their background in sports influenced their careers.

“There’s so much to say about this for me. You know, growing up in Scotland, playing for teams, moving my way up through the ranks, the locker room made a big impact on me. It became a microcosm of life itself. Playing soccer, and the rollercoaster it can be – the ups, the downs, the wins, the losses, the injuries, cuts, tryouts, great coaches, bad coaches, managers, captains, lessons learned everywhere you turn. I represented the youth schoolboy national team and traveled all over Europe from 14-15 years old, learning incredible life lessons everywhere I went. And the memories I have: priceless. I remember playing in the U16 European youth championship. We beat Holland in the quarterfinals, beat France (the host country) in the semis, and lost 0-1 to Russia in the finals. So many great players gathered there that went on to do such great things in the sport. My youth club in Scotland was the same club as David Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Andy Gray, John Wark, and Archie Gemmill. That means a lot to me. That’s the kind of club I’m proud to belong to, and it drives me to represent it for the rest of my life.” – Eric McAleer, Senior Vice President

“I came to the United States as a young 18-year-old to play college soccer in Missouri at Truman State University, located in a rural town called Kirksville. It was a town with a typical midwestern square with the courthouse in the middle and stores all around it. There was one main road through the outside of town, usually filled with massive trucks and lined with fast food establishments from start to finish. I didn’t know anyone and we started pre-season in 110-degree weather. Over the next few years of playing and coaching in the college space, I was fortunate to travel around the country to places like Florida, Texas, and Colorado, as well as visit too many small towns in the Midwest for games. When I started my professional career with WorldStrides, I always thought back to the rush I got from coming here to play, then being able to travel to various different states to play and coach. There’s something exhilarating about traveling for a game and experiencing new stadiums and environments. Of course, that feeling was taken to a new height when you won! However, I always appreciated being able to visit new places and experience a new culture. Now, I get the same buzz from being able to provide that opportunity to student-athletes, coaches, and families. Being able to travel on tour with these groups and to see them take in a Premier League stadium, the Eiffel Tower, or Buckingham Palace doesn’t give you the same feeling of winning a game on the road, but it always reminds me how fortunate we all are to be able to do what we do. Having experienced a lot of travel as I grew up, it is extremely rewarding to be able to help people experience the same thing and get them to want to do it as soon as they return! With COVID-19 changing our world, I feel even more fortunate to have this opportunity and I know we will all provide our players and teams with an even better experience as we come out of these strange times.” – Jonny Brown, Business Development Specialist

“Sport has always been at the forefront of my life. From an early age, it was what I loved: playing soccer from dusk till dawn during the summers; playing tennis during Wimbledon season using two chairs and a piece of string for a net; or using the new golf clubs I got for Christmas on the frost-hardened ground at home in Scotland, just because I couldn’t wait until the ground thawed. My favorite subject in school was P.E. I studied Sport and Leisure Management at university, moved to the U.S. to coach soccer, and now am incredibly fortunate to create opportunities for student-athletes to see the world through sport. I have developed as an individual because of my experiences through sport. It gave me confidence, independence, identity, and the opportunity to see the world.” – Steven Macdonald, Account Executive

“When I was in 6th grade, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Liverpool and London, England with my soccer team. For many of us, it was our first time traveling internationally, myself included. Being able to spend a week abroad with my best friends in a foreign country was an amazing experience and is a memory that I will forever cherish. Traveling abroad not only shaped me into a different soccer player, but it also opened up my eyes to a completely different culture. It truly changed my life. When my old teammates and I get together, it’s something that we always talk about to this day. We created so many lifelong memories together! My 6th grade England trip has come full circle, as I now have the opportunity to help others create a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they travel with WorldStrides Sports.” – Morgan O’Donnell, Senior Account Manager

“I grew up playing multiple sports in England and was fortunate to travel with my family across Europe on vacation. No matter where we visited, there was always a sporting event or location on our itinerary! My high school P.E. teacher had a lasting impression on my life as he pushed me to further my interest in soccer predominantly, but also swimming – both of which I continued into university. When in university, I found an opportunity to travel to the U.S. coaching soccer every summer, and in turn was given the life-changing chance to move full-time to Texas. I grew up watching old westerns with my Grandad every Sunday, so it was an easy decision for me! Fast forward 15 years and I’m working in an industry that combines two things that have always been my passion: sports and travel. I love providing these same opportunities to athletes, as I appreciate how much sports and travel changed the trajectory of not only my career, but also my life.” – Matt Veasey, Account Executive

“I had the privilege of playing lacrosse in college, and I was lucky to be submerged into a culture driven by a passion for the game and fighting to reach a common goal. Before I even stepped on campus, I instantly had 30 new best friends. When I graduated, I longed to find a similar atmosphere in a workplace. WorldStrides Sports is a team full of winners, all striving to be the best in our space. We get to go to work every day and compete. Organizing international trips that are life-changing for young athletes is so rewarding. When you love what you do, it makes a world of difference.” – Ashley Crites, Manager of Sales & Account Management

“It wasn’t until I started coaching that I realized just how important sports were to me growing up. It gave me the opportunity to practice life skills in a safe, fun environment. I am now privileged to be in a position to offer those same opportunities to a new generation of young people. It is incredibly rewarding to play a small part in their development as confident, empowered, and resilient leaders.” – Sam York, Account Executive

“Traveling to Germany as a 13-year-old to play against German opposition and train with German coaches was a huge part of my soccer life and upbringing. It really opened my eyes to football around the world and helped me realize that it was not only English kids that played soccer. I made some great friends in Germany on that trip that I still stay in touch with today. When I was at university, I came to the U.S. to coach soccer in the summer and realized the love for the game and the rapid growth the sport was experiencing here. By doing so, I was able to meet my wife, start a family, and become a U.S. citizen. If it was not for experience in Germany, I don’t think I would have come to the U.S. for a summer job – and as a result of that, now live in the U.S. and work in a job I feel incredibly passionate about while giving back to American children and helping them experience soccer culture around the world.” – Jamie Kent, Account Executive