From left to right: Omaha midfielder Conor Doyle, defender Damià Viader and forward Emir Alihodžić / Photo courtesy Union Omaha
On July 14, the United Soccer League (USL) announced a multi-year partnership with Bellevue University, making the university the first Official Education Partner in the league’s history.
As part of the partnership, Bellevue University will grant a full scholarship to each USL Championship and League One team annually to be awarded to a player to pursue their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Additionally, during year one, the USL, the USL Black Player’s Alliance and Bellevue University will work collaboratively to award a scholarship to a non-profit that benefits minority youth.
But aside from those amazing future opportunities Bellevue University has already begun to benefit USL players through a partnership with USL League One club Union Omaha. Three Omaha players - defender Damia Viader, midfielder Conor Doyle, and forward Emir Alihodzic - received scholarships to attend Bellevue, allowing them to pursue their academic goals in balance with their professional soccer careers.
“If I decide to stop playing soccer, I know that my degree from Bellevue University will be really valuable in the future and that's why I was so happy to have the opportunity to pursue my degree,” said Viader, who is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
Photo courtesy Aspects and Angles Photography
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is one of the country’s top 20 online universities and has nearly 60,000 graduates worldwide. The scholarships provided to the trio of Omaha players - like the ones now available to players across the entire USL ecosystem - are set to open doors and provide opportunities to players both during and after their playing careers.
USL Senior VP of Corporate Development and Partnerships Josh Keller at Werner Park to celebrate the parternship between USL and Bellevue University / Photo courtesy Aspects and Angles Photography
“With being an older player, I have had to start thinking about what to do after soccer is done,” said Doyle, who left Creighton University after only a few months as a young player to begin his professional soccer career in England. “I have been talking about taking classes for years, but always put it off. Once Bellevue presented this amazing offer, I had to jump at it and take full advantage of it. This will help me prepare myself for my post-soccer life.”
As part of the USL’s new partnership with Bellevue University, the two will collaborate on coursework and curriculum integrations, as well as on a number of community-focused initiatives aimed at uplifting underserved individuals and groups.
“My experience with Bellevue University has been great,” Viader said. “I have an incredible academic advisor that helps me a lot and I’m happy with my teachers. They're helping me and I'm growing and I'm getting to learn a lot of new things.”
For additional information on Bellevue University and course offerings, please visit www.bellevue.edu.