Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Olympics
Katie O’Donnell, the most decorated field hockey player in Maryland’s history, will lead the U.S. London Olympic team in their quest for gold this summer. She spoke with us about the games, her career at the University of Maryland, and her hope to meet Kate Middleton.
What drew you to field hockey?
I started playing field hockey because my sisters played growing up, and as the baby in the family, I was dragged to all their sporting events. I was given a stick and started knocking the ball around, and I guess it just took off from there.
You went to the University of Maryland for college—why did you choose Maryland?
I chose the University of Maryland because it is close to my home. My parents were able to make it to every single one of my games. The team is easy going, sweatshirt kind of girls—and I am definitely a sweatshirt kind of girl … [The coaches] lead and provide guidance but are not pushy … they let you find yourself.
You’re returning to the university in the fall as a student assistant coach—what will that position mean to you after all the success you had there? Are you considering coaching as a long-term path?
Yes, I am considering coaching as a long term career and that is why I am going to be an assistant volunteer coach … I have always worked under [Head Coach Missy Meharg] as an athlete, and now I am excited to transition to working under her as a coach … I have so much I can learn from her.
You’ve played on the international stage numerous times. How do you think the Olympics will compare?
It will be the biggest tournament that I have ever played in. I don’t know if it will compare to anything.
Many sports pundits believe you’ll be a major player on the London team, after leading team USA to gold at the Pan-Am Games—do you feel more pressure to perform because of it?
No, I don’t put much pressure on myself. It is what I do every day… I think that is all you really can do.
Kate Middleton is a field hockey fanatic and known to frequent games—do you think you’ll meet her if you win gold?
I’d hope so. I would love to.
Chris Milazzo is an editorial intern at Maryland Life.