Athlete Feature 14 - Rose-Anne Galligan - USA Athletics Scholarships

Athlete Feature 14 – Rose-Anne Galligan


Rose Anne Galligan attended the University of Tennessee for the 2006/07 academic year. Despite making NCAA’s in all three sports (including a win at the indoor DMR), the Irish athlete did not return for a second year and instead transferred to St Mary’s college in London. Since returning from the US she has represented Ireland numerous times over 800m and 1500m, most notably at the World Indoors and European Senior Championships. Her Pof10 profile can be found here.

tbUSA – What made you decide to go the US?

R-AG – I took a gap year after finishing school in Ireland because I was unsure where I wanted to go to university. I was torn between the UK and the US. I was never going to stay in Ireland as there wasn’t many facilities. During my year out I visited St.Mary’s and met Mick Woods and also visited some schools in America. I decided on America in the end because the facilities were way better and I found a really good Olympic coach that I thought I could work well with.

tbUSA - Can you talk about the recruiting process, how did you end up going to Tennessee?

R-AG – During my last year in school and my gap year I received a lot of letters and emails from different schools in the US. Some were quite small schools and some were D2, but the main ones were Tennessee, Villanova, Providence, FSU and Harvard. I did some research about all the schools and narrowed it down to Tennessee, Providence and Villanova. I then had visits organised for me. My Dad came out to America on the visits with me so it was good to have his opinion too.

After the visits I basically made a list of pros and cons for each school. I wanted to choose the school where I believed I would improve the most. I chose Tennessee as I felt there were a few girls there who I could train with who would bring me on and I felt Coach Clark was the coach most suited to me. His training wasn’t too dissimilar to what had been working for me before and he had coached his wife and sister to Olympic medals.

tbUSA - Was Tennessee your only major consideration or did you look at other schools? 

R-AG – Like I already said I also visited Villanova and Providence. I was able to tie in all three schools together so I basically went out to America for a week with my Dad and spent 48 hours on each campus. Tennessee wasn’t an easy straight decision, as I liked all three schools. But I definitely think I made the right decision.

tbUSA - What happened that you came back after only a year?

R-AG – I had a really great year out in Tennessee and if I had the choice to do it all over I would definitely still go. I had a very full on year out there, making NCAA’s at Cross county, Indoors and Outdoors. I had also come home in December for European Junior Cross Country championships. I ran really well in America and came on a lot as an athlete. Indoors I ran the 1200m leg of the DMR relay for Tennessee which we won at NCAA’s. Then outdoors I ran pb’s at 400m, 800m and 1500m. I also made NCAA’s in the 1500m but didn’t run well. I think I had just peaked too many times throughout the year. I then came home for summer and ran the 1500m at European U23’s. Again, I didn’t run well there either. After European’s I knew I wanted to run well on the European circuit rather than just the NCAA circuit. I looked back on my year and realised that I had raced an awful lot. I had also found out that the Elementary Education degree I was studying in America wouldn’t be recognised if I came back to teach in Ireland or England. I was also the only European on the athletics team and I had felt a bit homesick.

I weighed all of it up and decided to give St.Mary’s a go. I chose St.Mary’s because I could study Primary School Teaching there.

tbUSA - How does Tennessee compare to St Marys?

R-AG – The facilities in Tennessee were so much better. After training we would go into our training room where we had ice baths, warm water tanks, access to physios, masseuses and a chiropractor. We also had two different gyms; one for girls and one for boys. Everything was included in my scholarship and I didn’t get injured once out there as the prevention methods were all in place for every single athlete. At St.Mary’s I found it hard as I wasn’t part of UKA so I wasn’t allowed access to all of the facilities. I had to build my own service team around me and it wasn’t as easy as it had been in Tennessee.

After coming from a full scholarship in Tennessee I now had to pay to use the track and wasn’t allowed to use the gym on campus, even to do stretching or core work, unless I bought a year membership. Mick Woods started coaching me and because of the number of athletes he had I wasn’t getting the personalised training I had in America tailored to bringing me on as an athlete, so my progress stalled until I changed coach again.

tbUSA - How would you rate your overall US college experience despite its brevity?

R-AG – I mostly enjoyed all my time in collegiate system. I definitely matured as an athlete out there and I also feel like it brought me on as a person in general. Because of all the racing I did I got to travel a lot and saw a lot of the States which was a bonus. I also had the chance to train and race with some great athletes.

tbUSA - Did you get involved in much outside of running? What was your most memorable highlight?

R-AG – I went to the mall most weekends with the other girls on the team. We also went to most of the football games. We had a 102,000 seater stadium on campus so game days were pretty cool! During the season we travelled quite a lot for races so I got to see a lot of great places. My most memorable highlight would have to be winning the DMR at Penn Relays. It was an amazing experience!

tbUSA - What advice would you offer to athletes considering the US collegiate system?

R-AG – I would definitely recommend the US collegiate system to anyone as it is such a great opportunity. I was lucky enough to have schools approach me so I didn’t have to go chasing. I would however advise people not to just choose somewhere for the sake of going to America. Every school is different and treat their athletes differently. If at all possible, try and ask for a visit before you make your final decision as some schools can use the typical “salesman” approach, promising you this and that but when you get out there things can be a lot different.

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