NCI Blog

Naoise Howley: Balancing Early Childhood Education & Playing Lacrosse

Posted by Andrea Leyden on 20 June 2024

Naoise Howley, NCI student and Lacrosse Player

Now this is amazing news to shout about: current Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) student, Naoise Howley, will represent Ireland at the World Lacrosse Women's Under 20 Championship in Hong Kong in August!

In this interview, she shares her path to being selected for the team and her excitement at the opportunity ahead, along with insights into studying ECEC and advice for anyone considering their CAO choices at this crucial time when students have one last chance to change their course preferences before the Change of Mind closes on the 1st July.

1. Congratulations on being selected for the U20 Women's World Lacrosse Championships in Hong Kong! Can you tell us about your background in sport?

Hi, my name is Naoise Howley. I am a 19 year old student, who has just completed the first year of my four-year degree in Early Childhood Education and Care in the NCI. I live in Balbriggan and have three brothers, one of whom is my twin.

I am representing Ireland at the World Lacrosse Women’s Under 20 Championship in Hong Kong in August 2024. My background in sport began at a young age with the kick of a rugby ball. I loved the sport and played for twelve years for my local rugby club in Balbriggan, captaining my team in my teens. I also progressed to playing for the North East Leinster girls, which was very enjoyable. Additionally, I was privileged to be trialled for Leinster girls’ rugby. My rugby career included coaching, and I was fortunate to coach a number of younger girls' teams at my club, who were under 12.

Naoise 3I started playing Lacrosse in secondary school and progressed to playing for my club, Eire. From the very beginning, I loved the sport and found it to be a very positive experience for me. The position that I play is goalie, and I was honoured to be made Captain of my team, a position I currently hold.

My first Lacrosse tournament was a club tournament in Italy in 2022. I was successful in trials for the Ireland U21 Women’s National Team and represented my country in Prague in July 2023 at the Women’s Under 21 Lacrosse European Championship, where Ireland came in fifth place.

Lacrosse as a sport has not received funding from the state to date. In order to finance the cost of my trips to Prague and now to Hong Kong to represent my country, I have worked as a barista. The team has also organised fundraising events to help with the costs.

Looking ahead, in 2028, Lacrosse will be in the Olympic Games.

2. What are you most excited about for Hong Kong in August?

I am excited to represent my country at the highest level of sport in Lacrosse. I never would have dreamed that I would get the opportunity to represent my country at this level. For this, I have been working hard in NCI’s gym facility to ensure that I am at the highest level of fitness that I need to be at to participate in the World Championship.

Naoise 1

I am looking forward to the Lacrosse matches and the opportunity to compete against the other teams, with 21 teams in total in the Championship. I am excited about the camaraderie with my teammates and the support that I will continue to receive from my family, friends and my College, NCI. These experiences are particularly exciting as I have just turned nineteen and finished my first year of college in NCI.

3. Can you share insights into studying Early Childhood Education and Care at NCI?

I have just finished my first year of the Early Childhood Education and Care degree at NCI (NC030), which I have thoroughly enjoyed. This was my first choice among all the courses listed on my CAO in 2022.

I was very impressed with the College when I attended the open day and liked the atmosphere as I did the tour and met some of the students. Throughout this first year, I have enjoyed the modules, placements and volunteering. I found the modules to be interesting and informative. I have listed them below to show how varied they are and the broad range of subject matters was covered:

  • Holistic Learning and Development
  • Foundations of Early Childhood Education and Development
  • Holistic Child Learning and Development
  • Foundations of Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Music, Movement, Art and Drama
  • Academic Foundations and Scholarship
  • Essential Legislation and Regulation in ECEC
  • Child Health Nutrition and Wellbeing

I have found the new NCI Library in Spencer Dock, which is just a short walk from Mayor Square, to be a great resource for me throughout the year for studying for exams and preparing assignments. The lecturers on my course are very engaging, helpful, and friendly. I am looking forward to the second year of my degree, the new modules I will be learning, and the seven-month part-time placement in an ECEC setting.

4. How do you balance your studies and your sporting responsibilities?

As I mentioned earlier, the gym that I use for my training programme is the College affiliated gym and is literally right around the corner from the College. This helps to make my sporting responsibilities more convenient as I spend a considerable amount of time in the gym in preparation for Hong Kong.

Summer Open Day, Saturday 29th June

Learn more about studying Early Childhood Education and Care at NCI by attending this upcoming campus event. Register here.

My Lacrosse team training is on at the weekend, which is a good fit with my college life and studies. To ensure the balance between studies and sporting responsibilities, I have developed good time management skills. I feel that it is important to have a balance between college, studies and fitness as well as time for rest and relaxation.

5. Do you have any advice for anyone considering their CAO choices now?

I encourage students to consider their interests when choosing a course, and to pick one that reflects those interests. Additionally, I advise students to explore the varied courses offered by NCI, and to read all the information to get an idea of what each course involves. College staff are also very helpful if students have questions about the courses. This approach worked well for me!

I wish all Leaving Certificate students the best of luck in their exams and a great summer.

Naoise Howley is currently studying the BA (Honours) in Early Childhood Education and Care NC030 at National College of Ireland. If you have questions about this course in September, make sure to join our Summer Open Day on Saturday 29th June to chat to lecturers and students.

Topics: CAO, Undergraduate, Early Childhood Education