Culture shock: Ireland meets Lehigh Valley

By Allison McCausland

A&E and Online Editor

Football, or by its more Americanized name of soccer, is one of the most widespread sports on the globe, connecting almost every country in ways big and small. It can even function as a familiar face for those who travel to different countries as they explore the exotic cultures around them. At least that is the case for freshman Sean Tunney.

Tunney has spent the past nineteen years of his life in Ireland before making the decision to come to DeSales University and become a center back for the men’s soccer team, a sport he has been playing since he was around age four. However, this is not the first time Tunney has traveled outside Ireland to play the beloved game.

“Through soccer, I have been able to travel the world and meet new people,” said Tunney. “When I was just 10 years old, my club team, Cherry Orchard, won the Danone Cup and because of that, we went to South Africa to represent Ireland in a tournament against 40 other countries around the world.”

Despite an abundance of club teams and universities to choose from in Europe, Tunney felt that there was “not a lot of opportunities in Ireland as there is in America.” Deciding to pursue the major of sports and exercise physiology, Tunney was sold after learning of his father’s friendship with DeSales head soccer coach, George Crampton. Tunney’s father and Crampton attended the same high school in Ireland before Crampton came to the United States, providing the perfect connection for Tunney to take interest in settling in the Lehigh Valley.

“It was only through [Crampton] that I found out about DeSales University. I knew before I graduated from high school that I wanted to travel and experience new things,” said Tunney.

The experience is definitely adventurous for Tunney. While getting acclimated to the American lifestyle and culture, he has one consistent element: soccer. Nevertheless, there are subtle differences in the way Americans and the Irish go about the game, like singing the national anthem and using a stop clock to track the game’s progress.

Another big difference is the everchanging Pennsylvania weather.

“My very first game for DeSales University soccer team was not one of my finest,” said Tunney. “Us Irish folk see very little sunshine or heat as high as 90 degrees as often as Pennsylvania does… but the more games I played, the better I adapted to the climate.”

As he mastered playing in the fickle weather, Tunney also adapted to the new team and friends he has found.

“I think that the most interesting part of playing with this team is seeing how much we have improved and how close we have become as a team,” said Tunney. “Also, the coaching staff and players have helped me adapt to this lifestyle transition and have made myself and the other freshmen feel at home here.”

Tunney hopes that he will be able to have five or more goals this season as well as earn at least another MAC Freedom Defensive Player of the Week award. However, his love of the game will always fuel his desire to achieve his goals on and off the field.

“Whenever I was off the pitch through injury, I could not wait to return to playing games. Soccer has helped me identify who I am as a person and also what my goals are in life. I know now what I want to do in life as well as what I want to achieve,” said Tunney.

Planning on spending all four years of his college experience here, the DeSales community has not seen the last of Tunney and his soccer ability contributing to the Bulldogs’ path to victory. The cross-cultural and educational experiences of international students like Tunney definitely lends itself to the university’s mantra of “Be who you are, and be that well,” no matter where the student comes from.

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