Advocate focused on online studies and sports



It’s been a strange year for Sammy Murrell – stranger than most of them have been.

She is back in New Zealand and plays football for Southern United.

But she hasn’t quite left the United States behind.

Since arriving home in May, she has completed her degree in Neuroscience at Harvard University online.

The university has moved widely online since the start of Covid-19, while the Ivy League has canceled its entire sports season.

It made sense to stay in New Zealand from that end, both from a lifestyle and football perspective.

But it allowed for late evenings and early rises – some classes required her to be present at 4 a.m.

Right now, she’s under the added pressure of exams.

To explain this, she still lives on American time.

It hasn’t always been easy when football is on New Zealand time.

“It was difficult to balance,” she said.

“Coffee and naps were my two best friends this semester… lots of caffeine and lots of naps.

“It’s something I’ve been used to, trying to adapt studying to football.

“The timing was just a little different this semester.

“But it’s still time management, it’s the same skill.”

It had been disappointing not to get his final year, his fourth and final, at Harvard.

However, she said the decision to cancel the season was definitely the right one.

A former national representative of the Invercargill age groups, Murrell had enjoyed her time at Boston University.

Along with the experience, she felt that she had gained additional pace and fitness from the style of play there.

This was noticeable on her return to the South, where the defender is a regular threat with her rising in the wings.

She was enjoying playing for her home team again, including reconnecting with many players with whom she had shared a field before leaving for the United States.

Playing on the new Logan Park Turf had also been a bonus, and she said the facility compared well to what they had at Harvard.

The team had struggled in their first four games – although Murrell scored his only goal – before returning to form last week.

He performed well to secure a 2-1 victory over WaiBOP.

That leaves him in a good position ahead of his game against Central in Palmerston North tomorrow.

Murrell said Southern expected a tough game even though Central had yet to win this year.

Southern also has history on his side, as he last lost to Central in 2017.


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