Each year, high school athletes from across the United States make a decision on which college is the right fit for them. For some, getting away from their hometown and traveling out of state is the goal. For others, staying close to home allows them to grow and prosper with the guidance of longtime friends and family. While each option offers a distinct route, the overall goal of excelling in their sport, as well as their academic discipline, remains the same.
For Casey O’Connor, the predicaments of finding the school of choice were soon dispersed after arriving at Georgian Court University. It was the decision to stay close to home that has provided her with success after attending Toms River High School South. However, this was not always what she had in mind. While the Division II school is located just a few miles from her home in Toms River, O’Connor was quite hesitant to attend GCU in hopes of traveling out of state. In the end, the most powerful factors of family, friends, and an extraordinary coaching staff enabled her to call GCU home.
“I was a little hesitant to come to GCU. I originally wanted to go out of state and play away from home but I also wanted my family to be able to make it to my games. That’s why GCU was so appealing because it was close to home and they have a great education program. Also, my coach had a huge impact on my decision. He believed in me from the start and had so much confidence in me, that’s hard to find,” O’Connor said.
Her success can be tracked all the way back to her high school days where she was named to the 2010 Ocean County First Team with the Indians. In addition, she was named All A-South First Team in both 2010 and 2011 consecutively. These honors also came with being the most improved player in 2010.
Casey has experienced much success at Georgian Court University. On the field, O’Connor experienced her greatest success as a Junior Goalkeeper, leading her team to a CACC best 15-3 record – which earned the Lions the regular season championship.
Most recently, she has been nominated for the NCAA Woman of the year award.
“It’s an amazing honor to have received the NJ woman of the year award in January, and now to be nominated with hundreds of other female athletes at all levels for the NCAA woman of the year is incredible. Words cannot describe how humbled and grateful I am to be nominated AMONG tremendous athletes and human- beings. I worked very hard on and off the field and I feel like volunteering my time for those less fortunate within my community is one of the most important things that is near and dear to me. Growing up, helping others was something my parents instilled in me and I will continue to do throughout my life. My leadership roles on the soccer field, in the classroom, and for my athletic department has prepared me to take on any challenge. I think the way I present myself to others and lead by example has given me the opportunity to be nominated for such prestigious awards and RECOGNITION. My main goal in life is to help others achieve their fullest potential and provide others with the confidence they need to succeed,” O’Connor explained in appreciation.
Jim Moore, Head Coach of Georgian Court’s Women’s soccer team expressed his gratitude in O’Connor for receiving the nomination.
“Her nomination as a NCAA Woman Of The Year finalist is well deserved. She represents all that is wonderful about Georgian Court University student-athletes and what members of the GCU soccer program strive for,” Coach Moore said. As accomplished of a player O’Connor is on the field, her off the field resume is one to highlight as well. Striving to make a difference in the world, Casey has spent the last four years as a Biology Major. Her work ethic has allowed her to post a 3.1 GPA in her field which is only the beginning of her overall accomplishments.
In addition to her time spent being a student-athlete, O’Connor has spent much of the last four years devoting her time to community service and coaching. Once again, Coach Moore had only praise for Casey when it comes to her accomplishments. “I couldn’t be more proud of Casey’s accomplishments. She has worked very hard on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. Just a few of her community service projects include; organizing soccer sister program with female youth soccer players, collecting and sending gifts abroad to United States service men and women for the holidays, as well as donating toys for needy children during the holiday season.
Overall, O’Connor explained what has made her team so successful throughout her tenure at Georgian Court University as well as in the present saying, “My team is very successful and we continue to work harder every day in order to get even better. We are successful because we push each other, we hold ourselves accountable, and we respect each other as players and people. I couldn’t be more proud of these women and how they continue to strive for greatness every single day.” In addition, O’Connor credits the faculty and staff at Georgian Court University for being a huge difference maker throughout her career.
“It was also awesome to see your professors come to your games and cheer you on the sideline. [ you simply just do not see that regularly at other schools something that is a huge part of GCU]. I am extremely lucky and grateful for all the opportunities I was given and for all the people I have met at GCU.”