Welcome to this special interview, #40, with Sports Personality and entrepreneur, Nadine Liverpool.
Over the previous year, college coaches have been sharing with us weekly recruiting advice for prospective college athletes in our audience.
Every day hundreds of high school players and parents, are looking to the Recruiting Code for advice. Moving forward, I want to give you some of the inspiration. Why pursue college athletics?
For those of you dreaming of competing in college, listen to athletes who have already traveled the road and are now looking back.
I am excited to introduce you to one of the brightest young stars in sports media, Nadine Liverpool. Nadine played soccer at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB).
Nadine’s energy and excitement will leap off the page at you. If you have ever wondered why put in all the time and energy into college sport, take a look at Nadine’s story.
Let me now step out of the way as you enter the world of Nadine Liverpool.
Life in high school was not easy for you. Take us back into the mind of your 16-18 year old self? What were your dreams for yourself in high school? Did you see sports in your future?
When I was 16, I was one of the cockiest soccer players you had ever met. Ever since I was a little kid, I was always the best player on my team, had the best grades, most popular, etc. At 16 is when I made the junior national team for Canada and thought I was so badass.
I knew sports were going to be a big part of my future and my goal was to get a full-athletic scholarship to go to the States, which I eventually did.
On one of your blogs, What UAB Taught Me about Sisterhood, , you wrote, “The moment I arrived, all I wanted to do was show God my gratitude for giving me this amazing gift when I almost squandered it away.” This statement, maybe more than any other, captured my attention with the wonder and mystery of it.
Walk us through how you arrived 1000 miles from home on the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) campus to play women’s soccer?
As I stated earlier, I played on the National team for Canada, so being exposed to top-level programs in the States wasn’t a hurdle for me. In fact my club team at the time, Dixie Soccer Club, used to travel to showcases all the time in the States and therefore I was getting tons of letters from American universities.
But as I said earlier, I was extremely cocky and therefore thought my athletic talent would grant me a full-athletic scholarship not realizing grades were also a very important factor.
Now, I was extremely bright, but during my high school years I fell off track and was in a very toxic relationship with an abusive boyfriend. I ended up flunking all my classes one semester in my junior year and because of it I had to go back to school an extra semester just to get my grades in order so I could play in the NCAA.
I was playing soccer 5-6 days a week for 9 years of my life just so I could get the opportunity to earn a full athletic scholarship and I almost squandered it away because of a stupid boy.
But my coach took a chance on me despite everything I was going through. He actually heard about me, flew up all the way to Toronto just to watch me practice. Not a game, a practice. It poured the whole time and I still played my heart out. The fact that my coach made the extra effort to come scout me, showed he really believed in my talents and therefore I knew he was the perfect coach for me.
And a year later I was off throwing up after beep tests and falling in love with Panera Bread.
What are some of the lessons you learned playing soccer at UAB?
Going away and playing NCAA sports is a true test of discipline because now you don’t have parents forcing you to wake up and get to your practices and games. Everything is on you. If you don’t want to show up and put in the work then you lose your scholarship and go home. Simple.
Waking up for 6am practices and then having to go to class all day, then study hall, and for me I had a part-time job (in season!) was extremely tough. Then add in the road trips and study hall in the airport, on the bus, and you have to maintain a 3.0 GPA on top of making sure you kick ass every week on the field. Oh and social life? You squeeze that in on a Sunday night when you still have to wake up Monday morning for class. Fun.
It takes a lot of discipline, heart, and a whole lot of commitment to be a student-athlete. Having to maintain that level of focus and work ethic in college has helped me become the person I am today.
How did your college teammates and coach impact you during college?
My college teammates or my ‘soccer sisters’ as I call them, were my everything. I grew up in a very impoverished area in Toronto, or as most people would say, ‘the hood’ and therefore wasn’t surrounded with many positive influences. Hence why I thought it was okay to skip practices and games to hang out with my gang-banger ex-boyfriend in high school. Not smart.
Going to UAB and being around the most supportive and loving group of people, changed my life. I’m probably going to name my first born after my coach for what he’s done for me. Too much? Okay, may be he can just walk me down the aisle at my wedding.
With my UAB family, we laughed together, ate together, played together, and cried during fitness tests together, we were inseparable. Mostly for the fact that we all shared a common goal, which was we absolutely loved the beautiful game.
Being around my soccer sisters taught me what true, genuine friendship is supposed to be and I am so blessed to have experienced that love in my life.
Sisterhood After College
Can you tell us about friendships you have maintained with your former teammates?
I was very fortunate that I went to school that had a couple of girls from Toronto on it already. That was one of the selling points to why I went to UAB. Top-25 team? Check. Far away from home? Check. Plus there are other girls from my city that were just as crazy to go as far too? Okay, I’m sold.
So when I graduated, I was lucky I still had my mini-UAB posse up here in Toronto but Facebook was a way that all of us keep in touch and could keep tabs on what is going on in everyone’s lives.
I remember in 2013, I wanted to go to D.C. for Obama’s inauguration and I knew my teammate was living there so I hit her up. Mind you, I haven’t seen her since I graduated but she was more than happy to have me stay at her house during my stay. She took time off work, took me around the city, cooked me food, and went to the inauguration with me and everything. I was just so shocked at how she went above and beyond for me considering I hadn’t seen her in like 3 years. But none of that mattered to her. I was her soccer sister. It didn’t matter if I hadn’t seen her in 3 years or 30 years and for that I was so truly grateful.
Trinidad Women’s National Team
You had the opportunity to play for the Trinidadian women’s national soccer team. How did that come about and what was your experience like?
Well, during my junior year of university there was an international showcase being held in Alabama. Totally random because usually those types of events are held in much bigger cities.
Anyways, the coach from the Trinidad national team hit up my coach and said he heard big things about me and wanted me to play. I said of course and then the next day a PR rep came and said I had to do a media tour for the tournament. I went on Fox News, ABC, radio shows, the whole nine. Then I started all three games I played with Trinidad. I almost scored against Hope Solo when we played the States. Crazy! Plus we played against China and Argentina. It was just a surreal, amazing experience.
Nadine Liverpool and Life Today
Special Note: To really understand Nadine and what she is about to share with you, you have got to go check out her website, http://nadineliverpool.com. You will not be disappointed. Her story is inspiring.
Today you are a very successful Sports Personality, Host and Producer and to top it off you have recently started a service to help high school athletes who want to play in college. You are a rising star in the world of sports and media. I am assuming you did not wake up one day with all this success.
After you graduated from college, what direction did your life take? How did you get where you are today?
Well for the past 7 years, I’ve been working in the sports media industry. I started my own brand called SportsNAYtion, which is a digital sports show on YouTube where I talk about, yep you guessed it, sports.
I went back to school and got my post-graduate diploma in sports journalism and also received a diploma in digital marketing management and applied everything I learned to build my personal brand.
I went from ranting about my love for Kobe in my mom’s kitchen, to then becoming a co-host for Penny Hardaway and Charles Oakley’s radio show, to then being the named MTV’s biggest sports blogger in the country, to then becoming a personality on NBA TV, and working for the top sports networks in Canada.
I’m now transitioning into the sports business side of things and recently started up my own sports marketing company called Sports Fusion Group where we help elevate athletes to the next level. http://www.sportsfusiongroup.com
Becoming my own boss has been very challenging and rewarding because now I have more freedom to dictate where I go with my career plus I’m helping the next generation of athletes with their journeys to greatness.
Hustle and Hardwork
How did being a part of the UAB women’s soccer team prepare you to do what you are doing today?
I think the biggest thing it’s taught me is how to be resilient. There were many times playing at UAB, I doubted if I was cut out to be a student-athlete. There are times you have mental lapses dealing with pressures of staying fit, performing on the field and in the classroom, and just trying to be a regular student. There is a lot of responsibility with being a student-athlete and through all the hard times I fought through it.
The same thing goes with dealing with the real world. I have been rejected over and over again trying to work in sports media. Despite, the constant struggle and dollar menu dinners, I didn’t quit. UAB taught me how to be mentally strong and to believe that you can achieve anything with hard work because you truly can.
What advice would you offer to young men and women hoping to continue to play their sport in college?
I would tell them that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and your abilities. Knock on as many doors as possible because one is soon to open. There are so many opportunities for athletes to play college sports. Division I, II, III, NAIA, JUCO, etc.
Being a high-level athlete is a valuable asset and therefore any program would be lucky to have you on their team. There is a place for you, you just have to go out and find it. Hustle and don’t quit. The hard work will pay off.If you want to check out what Nadine is doing, follow her or look into her new business, here are her links:
Social Media Handles:
I look forward to bringing you many more interviews with college coaches and former college athletes.