Ireland’s very own Nadine Maher

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Ireland’s very own Nadine Maher

courtesy of Oakland Athletics

courtesy of Oakland Athletics

courtesy of Oakland Athletics

Darcy Dulapa, Staff Reporter

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Given the chance to pack up your suitcase, travel 3,452 miles away from home and fully immerse yourself in another culture all to further your education, would you do it?

Dublin, Ireland’s own Nadine Maher did, and is proud of herself for doing so.

“I have always wanted to travel, and I have taken this opportunity to make it happen, along with playing a sport I love and getting a good education,” Maher said. “I have always been interested in gaining life experiences and making memories, which made the decision for me to leave home easier.”

Maher grew up playing Gaelic football, a game quite similar to rugby in the sense that you use both your hands and feet to try and get the oval shaped ball into the net.

Having such quick hands, Maher found herself as a wanted prospect by a number of universities in addition to Oakland. This was a difficult process for her, as she was unsure which route she should take. Maher explained the hardship in trying to determine which college to attend when it is out of the country.

She said often times, athletes in Ireland have trouble distinguishing if the coach they are communicating with is a legitimate coach or not. Oakland University made it clear who they were and that they were interested by traveling 3,452 miles to Maher in order to introduce themselves and watch her play a bit.

“I felt more comfortable meeting them a few times which made my decision to choose Oakland a little easier by knowing what my coaches were like,” Maher said.

It wasn’t until 2015 that she ventured over to the soccer realm. But because of her previous football talents, it was an easy transition. She is currently one of the starting goalies for Oakland University’s women’s soccer team.

“Coming into soccer, I had good hands so I was well able to catch a ball,” she said.

When Maher was 16, she was called into the Irish U19 national camp for a trial run, the camp ran one week and they played two games during that time. Two months after that camp, she received an offer to play with the U17 national team where she played for a year. They made it to the European finals, but were knocked out by France, who beat them 1-0. Maher explained this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it was one of the greatest experiences of her life.

When Maher goes back home, she participates in the Women’s National League, where the winners of this league are qualified for the Women’s Championship in England. She explains what a great opportunity it is for young Irish players to be scouted for the top clubs in England.

Maher was able to acclimate fairly well to living on campus. The only difficult aspect was being five hours behind her hometown, but she was able to get passed that after a month or so. She is able to talk to her family back home everyday and explains that has made this process a whole lot easier for her. Maher is also able to see her family twice a year around the holidays and summers as well as an additional visit when her family flies in.

Maher is pursuing a bachelor of integrative studies, which gives students the opportunity to combine favorite classes and make a new degree. She chose exercise science and robotics because of her quest to help others.

“With this major, I aim to get my master’s and a job working with athletes, building and designing new technology and rehabilitation machines to aid them in getting better,” Maher said. “I also would love to build robotic arms and legs to make some people’s lives a little easier.”

Since moving to America, Maher has seen a change in character.

“It has grown me into a better woman, made stand on my own two feet, and I have become much more independent and responsible while being here on my own,” she said. “I am made to deal with problems that I come across on my own, no more going to my mammy for help,” she laughed.

Maher said her teammates and their families have been phenomenal to her in the aspect that they have helped Michigan feel like a temporary home. They have taken her in as one of them and without that, she believes she would be lost.

When comparing Ireland’s educational system to America’s, Maher said one of the main differences is that the college’s in America have much more of a variety of majors, whereas in Ireland, they can only choose from handful.

“There are both pros and cons for leaving Ireland to receive an education here,” Maher said. “The benefits here are that there are a lot more variety of things to study, and college life here is a lot better than at home.”

Maher plans on heading back home after she closes her educational chapter, but if the chance ever arose for her to stay and work, she surely would take that opportunity with arms wide open.