The Mack Report

Ganser, Sports Changing Lives in Ireland

Katie Ganser

It was just over a year ago that Katie Ganser walked across the stage at Merrimack College and accepted her diploma. As that day neared though, the two-time Warrior captain still wasn’t sure of her next step.

“As graduation from Merrimack approached in 2013, I wrestled with mix emotions as to what path to pursue,” she said. “Volunteering for a year post-graduation had always been a dream of mine but one I was reluctant to accept.”

Her future was soon realized.

(Ed. Note: this story will appear in a future edition of The Eagle Tribune)

Ganser has spent the past year in Ireland, studying for her Masters of Science and Management degree at Trinity College in Dublin while also furthering her basketball career, suiting up for Trinity’s team as well as the Dublin Meteors of the Premiere League.

The opportunity was through Sport Changes Life, a non-profit based in Belfast that aims to “increase the aspirations of young people through sporting excellence, vocational and academic achievement and personal development.”

The organization also offers the Victory Scholarship, which is awarded to former student-athletes from the United States and gives them a chance to continue their education by earning a masters degree at an Irish university. All the while, the student-athletes continue to play sports and give back to the local community by mentoring youth.

Ganser was one of the recipients of that scholarship this past year.

“Sport Changes Life fell into my lap as an opportunity to do volunteer work while continuing my education and playing basketball,” Ganser said. “It was the perfect combination for me, the timing was just right and when I was selected and then placed at Trinity College I knew I would be moving to Dublin.

When not studying, practicing or playing, Ganser has been coaching underage teams (U13 and U17) and also travels to local schools, running “sporting value workshop.”

She graduated from Merrimack last spring with her B.S. in Biology.

“This past year I have been working towards my Masters of Science in Business and Management at Trinity College in Dublin,” she said. “When I explain this, it always raises a few eyebrows but I intend to combine these two degrees to pursue a career in healthcare.

“My roommate, and fellow Victory Scholar, Shelby Smith and I were the first scholars in Dublin and we had an amazing experience. Ireland and the U.S. are similar in many ways but also significantly different in many ways. I was very much pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenge to adapt to a different culture. As a student-athlete and biology major, I never had the opportunity to study abroad. Although this was no study abroad program as my masters course was incredibly intensive – I am currently working towards finishing my dissertation on the Nurse-Physician relationship and its impact on quality of care – I have very much embraced the international experience. I have traveled to six different countries, made friends from around the world and have had the humbling experience of learning the outside perspective on the United States.”

The experience has been so positive, Ganser says she is planning on prolonging her stay there.

“I will be working with Sport Changes Life on the staff side of things and continue much of the work I started this year,” she said. “I will also continue to play in the Premier League for the Dublin Meteors.”

Basketball has been the Ganser’s family business, you could say. One of her cousins played professionally in Ireland and another cousin was a standout at Boston College.

Both of Ganser’s sisters play at Holy Cross and next year, she will have a familiar face to tour Dublin with.

“I am also proud to announce that my younger sister, Christine (a recent Holy Cross graduate), has also just accepted her spot at Trinity as a Victory Scholar next year, so we will working closely together,” she said.

The incredibly journey started at Merrimack, where Ganser appeared in nearly every game over her four years. She also found biology.

“Merrimack was my bubble for four great years,” she said.” I was able to play the sport I love, study a subject I was passionate about, serve the community, be challenged both academically and spiritually and blossomed into a strong young adult. My experience at Merrimack gave me the confidence, leadership and life skills to thrive in a new environment.

“I still very much stay in contact with my friends from school and from my basketball team. I spent many late nights staying up to stream their games live on my laptop! I highly recommend the Victory Scholarship program for any graduating student athletes. Sports have changed our lives in more ways than we realize, and they have the power to change so many more.”

Ed. Note — Katie has been keeping a blog of her experience in Dublin, which you can read by clicking here.