In the third instalment of HSC’s series, Vishal Saha met old Hamptonian and Alumni Relations Director Frank Keenan OH (2004).
When did you leave Hampton and which US University did you decide go to and why?
My final year at Hampton was way back in 2004. After Hampton, I studied at Durham University, where I studied Geography and played Rugby, before heading across the pond to do an MBA in the U.S. at Fairmont State University.
I chose Fairmont State University as they offered me a scholarship to play American Football as a kicker.
Were you happy with your decision to go to this University and how do you think it has affected your career path?
I was very happy with my decision to attend Fairmont. In terms of a cultural experience it was brilliant. Living in small-town West Virginia was very different to London and England but the people were wonderful and I made some life-long friends, whilst having a lot of fun.
Playing American Football was a new challenge and was hugely enjoyable. Academically I was able to complete my MBA and also work at the University, helping with alumni relations and fundraising. Unsurprisingly this helped to shape my career as I now find myself back at Hampton as the Director of Alumni Relations and The Fitzwygram Foundation.
What was it like to play American Football in the US and how was the social side?
Playing American Football was very different to the sports that I played growing up. Compared to rugby and football, which are generally free-flowing, American Football is very stop-start. As a kicker my involvement was very limited as my sole role was to come on and kick field-goals, PAT’s or kick-offs.
Some games I would have 10 or 12 kicks and in one game in North Carolina I kicked the ball off to start the game and then sat on the bench for four hours as we lost 38-0. As a kicker you have to take a lot of personal responsibility and be able to handle pressure and I enjoyed those challenges. I also got to play with some incredible athletes who went on to play in the NFL.
Do you have any tips for Hampton boys who would like to follow your path?
My path to American Football was certainly convoluted but I would definitely encourage Hampton boys to look at U.S. universities as an option. America is a beautiful country with brilliant people and universities who do a very good job at looking after their students.
The fourth post in the OH Athletes in America series will be published next Wednesday.