Chasing a dream

Halfway across the globe, another fall semester begins at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland. However, for senior forward Steven Beattie, sophomore defensive back Paul Andrews and sophomore midfielder  Andrew Montgomery, another run at a NCAA Division II soccer championship begins.

All three players are from Ireland, but have come to the United States to chase the dream of playing professional soccer and receiving a college degree.

Beattie, Andrews and Montgomery’s post-high school education began in their home town of Dublin, Ireland. After high school, they attended a school called Colaiste Ide. Colaiste Ide is a college of further education, where students can earn a two-year degree in the fields of sports complexes, leisure centers, health clubs and gyms, according to the school’s website. However, Irish students can also use this as a place to prepare for American colleges. At Colaiste Ide, the players prepared for the SATs, played soccer, trained twice a day and took college courses in hopes of gaining a scholarship to play soccer for a United States university.

“You go (to Colaiste Ide) for a year, and the sole purpose is to get a scholarship to the United States,” Andrews said.

After they had finished up their time at Colaiste Ide, the players came to Memphis, Tenn. for a player showcase, where players were able to show their skills for college coaches. Beattie was the first to participate in the showcase.

“That’s where I got picked up by NKU. Coach Basalyga was down there, and he seen me, and I ended up here,” Beattie said.

Andrews grew up with Beattie back in Dublin, and when it was time for Andrews to come to the showcase in Memphis a year later, Beattie had already begun recruiting Andrews to join him at NKU.

“I was in contact with (Beattie) while I was in the same course at Colaiste Ide, and he was telling what a great program NKU was, and the coach was good and the team was going to be good for the next few years, so the choice was made easy,” Andrews said.

Montgomery began Colaiste Ide in the same year as Beattie, but due to an injury he was forced to stay back and attend the institute for an extra year before coming to the showcase in Memphis.

While the three are playing a sport they have known their whole lives, all of their other surroundings in Northern Kentucky are different than they were back in Dublin. But this doesn’t mean the changes have been negative. All three talked about how much farther their money goes in Northern Kentucky compared to the expenses they incurred in Dublin. Dublin ranks as the eighth most expensive city in the world to live in, according to the Huffington Post article “World’s Most Expensive Cities To Live In.”

Andrews said there is no way they could afford the house they have now back in Ireland.

They also talked about how welcoming everyone has been in Northern Kentucky.

“People are really interested in where you came from and want to get to know you,” Beattie said. “Everyone you meet is always friendly and always nice, and willing to help you out. Back home you have nice people, but not everyone you meet.”

Since Beattie has been on campus, the team has earned a berth to the NCAA tournament every season, taking the team to the Final Four for the first time in program history in 2008. Beattie was named the Ron Lenz National Player of the Year in 2008 and was named a First Team All-American in 2008 and 2009.

The players also come into the 2010 season with high hopes. While coach Basalyga told the team that the goal is to go one step farther than you did last season, Beattie, Andrews and Montgomery feel like that wouldn’t be good enough for them.

“We are by far the strongest conference in Division II soccer,” Beattie said. “That’s the standard you’re setting if you constantly putting teams into the Final Four or the championship game. It’s within reason to go all the way.”

The Great Lakes Valley Conference has placed a team in the Final Four four out of the last five years, with the Norse going in 2008.

While all three players said they have loved being apart of the NKU soccer program, they don’t expect NKU to be the last stop in their soccer career. All three have expressed interest in playing professional soccer.

“If I had a chance at a pro career I’d jump at it. Even half a chance I’d take it,” Montgomery said.

Story by Nick Jones