Lauren Wade is living her version of the American Dream after an impressive first season in US College football.
After a regular season in which the Coleraine woman led the South Atlantic Conference in goals and points and tied for second in assists, she was also named the SAC Player of the Year following her impressive performances for the Carson Newman Eagles.
The 23-year-old is clearly enjoying life in Jefferson City, Tennessee after making the move to America.
“I am absolutely delighted with the season that I have had,” she told Times Sport.
“I never thought I would have had the season I did. To come to America and win the Conference and Conference Tournament has been a dream, obviously my biggest dream is to win Nationals but we are working towards that.
“On a personal note, I am so honored to have won many personal accolades such as SAC Player of the Year, D2CAA Southeast Region Player of the year, First Team All Conference and First team D2CAA.
“I am very proud to win many accolades but the goal for me is to become and All-American, the highest sporting achievement.
“When I first heard I had been named Conference Player of the Year I was shocked but I am very honored to have been named Player of the Year.
“However without this team I wouldn’t have won the award. We have a fantastic team, we all make each other great and I am thankful to them. “
The team certainly produced the goods on the pitch.
For the second consecutive season, the Carson-Newman women’s soccer team brought home the silverware, winning second straight South Atlantic Conference title and the sixth in the program’s history.
“It was a fantastic achievement and this team is just great,” said Lauren.
“They have become stronger and stronger every year and it shows how good this soccer programme really is.
“This team together is very motivated and we all have the same passion and dreams. Even though the season is over, the preparations have already started for next season. We are a hard working team.
“However, we were all disappointed to bow out of the NCAA Tournament second round as this was not in our plans but that’s football.
“What’s important is that we bounce back and work even harder to make sure that we go all the way next year.
“We have to show great character and determination as a team but we all believe that we can go further.”
As well as impressing on the sporting field the former Dunluce School pupil is hoping to impress in the classroom in her Business Administration major.
But how has she found balancing her sport and studies?
“What I love most is that I am here to focus on my football so having class one day a week suits me perfectly,” she said.
“We train as a team everyday of the week; we play our conference matches on Wednesdays and Saturdays with Sunday as a recovery day.
“Also with only having one class a week I have a lot of free time so I am able to do a lot of work on my own on the pitch to make sure I stay fit and healthy.
“There is nothing better than playing football everyday.
“Personally I feel that the college game is a lot more physically and mentally challenging than playing club football.
“As the season is so short yet very intense, it is important that you also stay fit and healthy.”
Lauren is now looking forward to spending some quality time with her family and friends back in Coleraine over Christmas.
“I come home at Christmas to see all my family and friends as I have been away for four months now,” she said.
“I will return to the States in January to continue my scholarship for another year and a half.
“What is important is that I keep training and working hard for next season.”