USWNT’s Kelley O’Hara Is Jack-Of-All-Trades
Kelley O’Hara’s impressive soccer career spans numerous teams and positions, and she hopes to use her success to inspire other female athletes.
Defender Kelley O’Hara is one of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s most reliable and effective players. Her impressive career began at Stanford University, and she has continued to climb all the way to the United States Olympic team. Her successful career has provided her with a platform that she hopes to use to elevate the status of women’s sports.
O’Hara has been a fierce competitor since she was a young player. This drive and determination led her from her hometown of Fayetteville, Georgia across the country to Stanford University. As U.S. Soccer describes her, O’Hara was a “standout forward” and was awarded for her achievements, including 26 goals and 13 assists in her final season with the Cardinals, with the Hermann Trophy in 2009.
After her NCAA career, O’Hara was third overall draft pick for Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). She first competed with the WPS’s FC Gold Pride. The FC Gold Pride, along with several other teams and leagues, folded during O’Hara’s first decade out of college, including the WPS itself, right after O’Hara signed with the Atlanta Beat and was excited to return home. Soon after, however, O’Hara played in the new National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) after it replaced the WPS. O’Hara initially played for New Jersey’s Sky Blue and then switched to Utah Royals FC.
Though O’Hara had been playing forward her entire career, when a teammate was injured during the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, O’Hara did not hesitate to step in and play defender. Team USA notes that O’Hara went on to play every minute of every game during the 2012 Olympic Games in the outside back position. Since then, O’Hara has consistently remained a defender.
O’Hara’s international experience includes two Olympic Games, in which she won a gold medal in 2012, and three FIFA World Cups, earning one silver medal in 2011 and two championships in 2015 and 2019. The Washington Speaker’s Bureau reports that O’Hara is one of only 36 women to earn 100 caps, or appearances in international games.
Reflecting on her successful career, O’Hara decided she wanted to give back to women’s sports. In order to increase the traction of and interest in women’s sports, O’Hara teamed up with Haley Rosen, founder of Just Women’s Sports, to produce the “Just Women’s Sports Podcast.” O’Hara’s motivation to join the podcast series is to live up to the responsibility that comes with a platform like her own.
“I love hearing people’s stories, their journeys, how they became successful. Because I know in my own story and journey, it’s very nuanced and complex and there’s a lot of stuff people don’t see,” O’Hara told ESPN. “I’m a female athlete, and I don’t think that the coverage is as good as it should be. So I’m getting involved.”