Defender focused on online study and sport

Sammy Murrell is juggling online study towards a neuroscience degree from Harvard University with...
Sammy Murrell is juggling online study towards a neuroscience degree from Harvard University with Southern United football commitments. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
It has been weird year for Sammy Murrell — weirder than it has been for most.

She is back living in New Zealand and playing her football for Southern United.

But she has not quite left the United States behind.

Since arriving home in May, she has been completing her neuroscience degree at Harvard University online.

The university has moved largely online since the onset of Covid-19, while the Ivy League has cancelled its entire sporting season.

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

But it has made for some late nights and early rising — some classes required her to be present at 4am.

At the moment, she has the added pressure of exams.

To account for that she is still living by American time.

It has not always been easy when football is operating on New Zealand time.

"It was tough to balance," she said.

"Coffee and naps were my two best friends this semester ... a lot of caffeine and a lot of naps.

"That’s something I’ve been used to, trying to fit study around football.

"The timing was just a little bit different this semester.

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

It had been disappointing not to get her senior year, her fourth and last, at Harvard.

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

A former national age-grade representative from Invercargill, Murrell had enjoyed her time at the Boston-based university.

Alongside the experience, she felt she had gained extra pace and fitness from the style of play there.

That was noticeable on her return to Southern, where the defender is a regular threat with her runs up the wings.

She was enjoying playing for her home team again, notably in reconnecting with many players she had shared a field with prior to leaving for the United States.

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

The side had struggled in its first four games — although Murrell scored its one goal — before finding form last week.

It performed well to claim a 2-1 win over WaiBOP.

That leaves it in good stead ahead of its match against Central in Palmerston North tomorrow.

Murrell said Southern was expecting a tough game, although Central was yet to win this year.

Southern also has history on its side, as it last lost to Central in 2017.


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