Defender Kelley O’Hara ’10 played every minute of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s gold-medal run at this summer’s London Olympics. On the Farm, O’Hara became the Cardinal’s first Hermann Trophy winner as a senior — her 65 points and 26 goals that year are still school records — and ignited a streak of three such player-of-the-year awards for Stanford. After graduating, she played two seasons in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. O’Hara spoke with The Daily during last Friday’s women’s soccer season opener, just after spending time on the air as part of the Pac-12 Networks’ first live event broadcast.
The Stanford Daily (TSD): So first of all, talk about what it’s like to be here at your alma mater for the first ever broadcast of the Pac-12 Networks, and what else but a soccer game?
Kelley O’Hara (KO): Yeah, it’s awesome. There’s electricity in the air and people are pumped because college season is underway officially. So it’s fun to be back here, and this is a huge rivalry, Santa Clara and Stanford, in terms of women’s soccer. Back in my day we used to really go at it, and it’s no different today. Being back with a gold medal is super cool, because Stanford has tons of gold medals but I feel like I’m part of the club now, so it’s fun.
TSD: The seniors on this team were freshmen when you were a senior. Talk about some of the people you see on this field and how they’ve developed.
KO: They were my baby freshmen back in the day. I love them dearly. They’re the best. It’s awesome, because a lot of them I’ve seen grow a ton, but you’ve got [Rachel] Quon and Alina [Garciamendez] and Mariah [Nogueira], and the three of them were starting every game as freshmen, you know, and we relied on them heavily my senior year. They were huge for us and they’ve been huge for this program for the four years that they’ve been here, and they’ve done big things obviously, they won a national championship last year. So it’s really fun to come back. I got to hang out with them at practice, and I love them. They’re great, and they’re near and dear to my heart.
TSD: When they won that national championship last year, it had to feel a bit like a monkey off your back. Year after year after year, there were those 1-0 losses in the Final Four.
KO: Yeah! It really was. It was like, finally, you know, we finally did it. Obviously I was a bit jealous — how can you not be — because I would have died to get that, but it was so awesome for the program. They totally deserved it, and they worked their butts off. Just being around them last season and watching how much time they put in, these girls know how much it takes and know what it takes, and they do it. They dedicate a lot of time to it. So it was great for them.
TSD: Talk about your London experience. That was only a week ago. It must be pretty fresh.
KO: Yeah, London was wild. I had a great time after we won and I could just relax, take it easy and enjoy my time. They did a great job with the Games; the volunteers were amazing. Everything ran super smoothly. It couldn’t have been better, to be honest. It was my first one so I have no comparison, but it was a great time.
TSD: How did the Olympics compare to what you expected going in?
KO: I don’t know, because what do you even expect when you go to the Olympics? I think it exceeded all expectations because we won, so that’s the most you can ask for.
TSD: The WPS is not going to be moving on for another season. What are you planning on doing for the time being?
KO: Well, there’s talk of a semblance of a league coming back next year, so there’s potential to play in that, but if not I’ll just go overseas to maybe Sweden, France or Germany. It just depends. We have a Victory Tour with the national team this fall so I’ll be doing that, and I’m not going to give too much thought that far in the future yet, just going to enjoy myself and have some fun.
TSD: Do you think this team can win another national title?
KO: I do. I think that Stanford women’s soccer is going to be a contender at the national level for a very long time, so I think there’s a very bright future here.