made her debut with the Women’s National Team in 2002 when she was still in high school, and during her time with the squad she has worn many hats.
“I’ve been in every role—from the young kid looking for playing time, to a starter, I’ve been in a reserve role coming off the bench, so I can relate to all the positions and use it to my advantage to help my teammates,” said the East Brunswick native.
O’Reilly has 160 caps (appearances) under her belt and 11 plus years serving on the team. It’s a team she’s grown up on and one many think of when they hear her name. She hopes that her experience will play a big role on July 25 and beyond when the women’s team opens up competition in the 2012 Olympics against France and she goes for her third gold medal.
“I’ve sort of grown up on this team, so I definitely think I’m a mentor on the team,” she said.
The past year has been a busy one for the women’s squad and even busier for its midfielder. After losing in the finals in the , the team took a couple of months off, during which O’Reilly got married, before heading back to the and qualify for Olympic play.
“It was a quick turn around after the World Cup,” she said. “The last two years have been super busy. After a disappointing result in the finals, I took a couple of months off in the fall, snuck in a wedding and then as soon as the New Year hit, 2012, we left the past behind us. We accomplished a lot in the World Cup and we’re fully focused on the Olympics.”
Once the New Year hit, it was full steam ahead and every player on the team had one goal—Olympic gold. The squad spent two to three weeks every month training and playing together. They’ve spent time in hotels, lived together and gotten to know each other better than ever.
“I think we have an understanding of each other. We know each other’s nuances and I think that’s definitely going to help.”
With the women’s team safely in Glasgow (they left Tuesday), O’Reilly took the time to reflect on her previous Olympic games.
“I think my role has naturally developed on the team as I’ve grown in experience and gotten to be a different player,” she said. “In every Olympics I’ve had a different role. In 2005 I was probably the last pick. In 2008 we had a new coach and a new role for me, playing midfield.”
At just 27, O’Reilly still has a long career before her, but that hasn’t prevented her from thinking about the future. An education major during her time at the University of North Carolina, she often considers a career as a teacher, something she has dabbled with during her time as a mentor at the Heather O’Reilly soccer camps she has sponsored over the years.
“Next year will be more of a down year, which is probably good considering how busy I’ve been the last two years. My primary focus is still training and playing and being the best player I can be,” she said.
And for the Women’s Olympic Team, the best she can be will go a long way toward their success this summer.