Life as a sports scholarship athlete in the USA with Charlotte Crisp

By Jessica Fassnidge
Charlotte Crisp, a former CSUSA client and now a personal trainer, is working at an exclusive gym in London since her time in the United States. As well as being a personal trainer she has created a platform online to make high-quality training affordable for everybody. Alongside this, she is able to offer support and guidance surrounding nutrition as well.

Charlotte obtained a football scholarship which allowed her to attend university in the USA while studying towards a degree. During her 4 years, she attended two different US colleges playing football at both of them. We were able to catch up with Charlotte and talk to her about life as a female footballer and being an international student in the US. We talked in-depth about her passion for football, how she found the right school, and what the challenges and obstacles were while studying abroad. Regardless of the sport you play, Charlotte has some great advice for any potential student-athletes! We hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

You started your journey in Mississippi at Pearl River Community College before transferring to the University of Montevallo. How did your adventure begin in the USA?

I knew I wanted to play football, but I didn’t necessarily want to go to university. But then I watched Bend It Like Beckham, and I was like, ‘that’s what I’m going to do!’ I said to myself, “I want to meet David Beckham at an airport and play football in America.”

That is different motivation to most, but an iconic player so makes sense. Did you ever get the chance to meet David Beckham?

Only at a book signing in London. I tried to play it cool…but I didn’t.

Before going to the USA, you had a choice of a few schools you could have attended. You decided to fly out to check them out, how was that experience?

I flew over with my family and visited two schools in the same week. I was super tired when I arrived at Pearl River. Still, it felt so natural to be there. The girls and the session with Coach Bird were great.  It sounds cliche, but it just felt right. I didn’t get the same vibe at the second school.

Not all students get the opportunity to check the colleges out beforehand, from your experience do you think it is valuable seeing the campus before committing to a college?

Yeah, massively. You know that feeling when you walk in somewhere and it just feels good? Well, I’m a massive believer in that. It’s why I went with College Scholarships over the other agencies. I think seeing the campus helped my parents, too. They were sending their 18-year-old daughter off to college on another continent. That’s a massive thing. So we were all very fortunate to visit the school.

You started at Pearl River Community College where you completed your initial two years before that transition to complete your bachelors at the University of Montevallo. Was this part of your decision making to go down this specific route before choosing a college?

I’m sure it was. It fits with the rest of my life. I’m good at being in one place for a short time, then going off in search of another challenge. So it worked out perfectly for me. Although near the end, I did wish it was a four-year course. But only because I was having so much fun, both on and off the field.

What did you enjoy about being at Pearl River?

Being amongst people that shared the same passion and interest and who wanted to train. I’d grown up without many females playing football around me So being in an environment where everyone loved football was amazing. And I loved the professional lifestyle of being a college athlete.

So, let’s dive into your background as a footballer. What team did you play for at home and what were you like as a player?

I played for a team called Wimbledon growing up. It was a good level. We won a few leagues. I’d call myself a good player who works hard, rather than natural talent. And my parents hired a PT [personal trainer], so I had lots of football-specific training.

We often have many student-athletes that talk about the game is different in the USA compared to their home country. What was the transition like for you going into the college system in the US?

It’s like going from a standing start to 100mph in a few seconds. It’s so intense: the training sessions, the summer heat, the weightlifting, zero alcohol, and you have to perform in the classroom. If you don’t get the grades, you don’t play. You’re going to be in the study hall instead. You have to put the work in, hustle and grind. It’s tough, but people will notice. And you’ll get rewarded. I became an all-state player in my second year — not because I was the best or most technically gifted player, but because I worked hard and always showed my passion.

Did you experience any culture shocks being in Mississippi?

Definitely, but they were good shocks. Things are different at universities in England, especially during your first year. You go out, get drunk, and just turn up to lectures. You can’t do that as a college athlete in the US. You’re always held accountable. And everybody is super competitive. They want to be the best player and get the best grades. I loved this side of it. It brought out an edge in me which I felt I’d lost back in England.

What did you think about the academic side of things in the US?

I liked the fact you could change your degree. I ended up doing kinesiology. It was the closest thing I could find to sports science. I have no doubt it helped me get the job I have today. So no regrets!

After your time at Pearl River came to an end, what challenges did it bring about with you having to switch schools and continue at The University of Montevallo? What was that transition like?

You have to prove yourself all over again. You’re treated like a freshman again. Then my fitness levels dropped badly while I was there. It hit my confidence badly, and I had to stop playing. A year went by, then I had a blood test back in London and found out I was severely anemic. I took some time out to recover. Then came back in my second year and bossed the pre-season. I went on to become captain of the team.

When you graduated with your degree in Kinesiology, how did you feel?

I was relieved and proud. I had a degree. I’d left college as the captain of a sports team. It made all the hard work and tough times worth it.

With your life now, you are working as a Personal Trainer at Equinox, what is it like?

Equinox has been fantastic. I’ve been there for a few years now. And with all my experience, I want to create a high-quality training platform that’s affordable for everyone.

Was it always part of your plan to be where you are now?

I was a football coach as a teenager and always thought I’d do Personal Training on the side. But after my degree and my personal health problems, I realized being a PT is about more than just training. It’s about mental strength, healthy habit building, your whole lifestyle, and outlook. As soon as I took the course, I knew I wanted to be a PT full-time. I love it. It doesn’t feel like a job.

With your degree in Kinesiology, do you feel it has helped in your current job?

Definitely. The degree helped me understand how the body works. And I’m learning more all the time. There’s so much outstanding research happening now, especially around women’s sport. I’m interested in women’s nutrition and training around their menstrual cycles. I’m focusing on that now.

Looking back on your journey so far, what advice would you provide to your 18-year-old self (or anyone else) thinking of going to the USA on a sports scholarship?

It won’t be easy. Go with an agency and use all the support they offer. Be confident, remind yourself when you choose this life and work hard. Get help if you need it. And, most importantly, enjoy it and embrace it. You’ve got a great opportunity, so take it.

Your advice is very honest and will no doubt be helpful for so many people looking to follow in your footsteps of obtaining a sports scholarship. Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us today.

Thank you for having me. It’s been fun!

Check out the full podcast episode below with Charlotte!

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