IONA HOLLOWAY

Accolades

  • All-American Third-Team Honors Earned Longstreth/NFHCA All-Mideast Region First-Team
  • Honors
  • BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
  • All-BIG EAST First Team
  • 2013 'Cuse Awards Female Soladay Award winner for athletic achievement, academics, leadership and service
  • Synapse Sports Defensive Player of the Week (9/4)
  • BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week (9/3) after leading the way in a shutting out No. 2 North Carolina, 1-0 in overtime (9/1).

Testimony - Iona Holloway

"Securing a field hockey scholarship to play in the U.S. changed my life, and I owe all of it to Holly. She knew what kind of player I was, the kind of physical and mental challenge I was up for, and she found the perfect school for me to thrive in.

Playing for a top Division 1 school like Syracuse University was grueling at times, but winning the Big East Championships and making theNCAA Final Four are memories I will never forget"

Mrs Brine - mother of Jodie Brine at Brown University

My daughter was recruited to an Ivy League University hockey programme and this would not have happened had it not been for Aspire USA. They take the time to build your profile, film and edit the highlight reel and really get to know the player ensuring the right fit with a university. They gave plenty of help and advice regarding SAT/ACT testing and NCAA eligibility, but the most important asset Aspire USA have is their network and relationships with US college coaches.

My daughter is living her dream and getting a great education at the same time. I couldn’t recommend Aspire USA highly enough for helping to make that dream come true.

Mr Greenwood - father of Rachel Greenwood, Harvard.

My daughter Rachel was approached by AspireUSA in the spring of her lower sixth year. AspireUSA suggested that Rachel could get a lucrative scholarship at a top US university with the opportunity to still play high level field hockey whilst studying.

Holly at AspireUSA suggested she had contacts with all the major field hockey playing universities including the most prestigious. 

We were a little skeptical about this at the time, but felt that we had not much to lose but plenty to gain so decided to give it a go.

After skype calls with Northwestern, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and UNC we soon felt that Holly really did carry some weight with these coaches.

Holly came up to visit Rachel in Preston and filmed a 5 minutes skills video with Rachel knocking a hockey ball around.

After the video was sent out all 5 coaches came back quickly saying that Rachel was their number 1 recruitment target. Just amazing.

So, I have no doubt that it was because of Hollys contact with the coaches and the excellent skills video, that Rachel was offered opportunities at US universities that we could only have dreamt of.

After visiting Princeton and Harvard in the October break, Rachel quickly decided that Harvard had the right mix of academics and european style of hockey, so signed up during the visit.

Rachel is now in her second year studying and playing at Harvard and loving the fast pace of life in Boston. 

We are truly grateful to Holly and her team at AspireUSA and could not recommend her services highly enough.

Mrs Gibson - Mother of Esme Gibson at the University of Iowa

Deciding to take the plunge is really nerve racking. There are so many negative rumours about the quality of US hockey, the treatment of scholarship internationals if they are injured, the actual availability of scholarships and the attitude of EH towards players who decide to go. It’s also a big thing to let your sport play such a large part in what is ultimately an academic choice!

Your handling of our first meeting was excellent. There was no hard sell, just lots of really quality information about what it actually involves and dispelling lots rumours and focussing on the all important academic ‘fit’. As a result of your own experience you could give first hand information. Your genuine belief in the US opportunity as a result of that experience shone through and for us spoke volumes and gave us real confidence about the process and the experience. You were also careful to manage our expectations - that’s really important too - not everyone can go to a top 10 hockey college on a full ride.

Just as important was your careful but focused exploration of us, Esme and our drivers. The US experience would not be right for everyone and you are very good at establishing the likelihood of it working for a particular family. I can’t tell you how reassuring that is - if you pass the ‘Holly Test’ the US experience will very likely work out really well for you.

The actual process is very daunting, time consuming and the challenges are many and various. Without your help I’m not sure we would have made it through, let alone get the excellent outcome we did. 

You went to great lengths to get to know Esme and us too, you advised on the approach to the academic tests, helped with revision materials and put together a great promotion video for Esme covering skills and match play - and clocked up a lot of miles doing that.

One of the biggest factors in Esme’s successful application was your encyclopaedic knowledge of USA universities, their hockey programmes and the ethos of those. You gave great advice about likely scholarship levels and each university’s stage of recruitment. You also guided us through the visiting process and handled a myriad of questions from us. We felt really well supported.

Esme received 3 excellent scholarship offers from top 10 hockey universities. We would never have achieved this without you, we would not have had the time, contacts or knowledge. But your help didn’t stop there. You gave us information to help us navigate our way through ‘interviewing’ the hockey coaches from those universities to make the final decision which really allowed us to focus on the key points.

Your help didn’t end there! The NCAA, university and immigration paperwork is significant but you had guidance sheets to help us and Esme’s school and occasionally had to remind us that we were running behind!

Your follow up has also been great - you back your scholarship athletes and retain a genuine connection and interest in them even years down the line.

So what is the reality of being an international field hockey scholar at a US university?

Well we can only speak for Esme and Iowa. 

Esme is loving it, it is an amazing and fabulous opportunity which we can’t quite believe is real, we are still waiting for the ‘catch’ but we’ve not found one yet. For Esme it was important to have a new experience not simply to stay in the UK and play with and against the same players that she had done for the previous 5 years. Instead she is playing with students from the US, Holland, Belgium and Australia one of the best and most supportive squads I have ever seen and she has ever experienced, she just loves playing hockey with them and has already made friends for life. 

The athletes are at the heart of everything at Iowa and their welfare including academic performance is the priority. The standard of coaching is excellent and the tone encouraging and collaborative. But there is so much more too. Extra academic support and advice, priority booking of courses and lots of strings pulled to get the academic schedule to fit around the hockey; finance, physio, medics, psychologists - everything is covered off by people who’s job it is to support athletes. There is regular contact with parents and huge parental support. Iowa really has its own hockey family. What is truly amazing are the facilities - modern and expansive - lavish actually in comparison with the UK. It makes the squad feel valued and they receive huge university wide recognition for their efforts and achievements. But they are also kept grounded and have squad aims for academic performance.

The academic programme has also been excellent. Esme has had the opportunity to study subjects such as rhetoric, American history and economics which, as a student with science and maths A levels, she could not have studied in the UK as she would have been funnelled straight into a science degree.

If you had told me this time last year that Esme as a freshman would have started every game, played almost every minute of every game, been part of a squad that made Iowa history by winning the big10 league and tournament including Esme being on the starting line up in overtime in the final, I would not have dared to dream it would be true. But it has happened (I still have to pinch myself!) and the NCAA national finals are approaching.

The Aspire approach has been vital in this success. Your objective is not just to place players but to place them at the right university for them. The best example I can give of how well you do your job was your answer to my question as to which university you thought Esme would pick and which would be best for her. Because you knew her and the universities and their programmes so well, you instantly answered ‘Iowa’ and how right you have been!

Sorry this has been so long but I hope some of it will be useful. I hope it also makes you realise how good you are at your job and how grateful we are for all your help and support. 

It is a life changing experience and we are all loving it!

 

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