Field Hockey, Lacrosse
Favorite athlete: Serena Williams
Favorite team: Patriots
Favorite memory competing in sports: My team hugging after we scored in overtime during playoffs. I was on the ground by the cage and my teammates came running over to hug us.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My teammate rolled off the field because she had a Charlie horse. It was very funny because the game didn’t stop and you just see her rolling off of the field.
Music on playlist: Before games, I listen to POWER by Kanye West
Future plans: I plan to go to Babson College to continue my education. I will be playing field hockey there as well. I also hope to travel and study abroad.
Words to live by: “Forget the risk and take the fall; if it’s what you want, then it’s worth it all.” -Anonymous
One goal before turning 30: I hope I have a steady job and I hope to have found the person I want to spend my life with. I really want to be happy by the time I am 30.
One thing people don’t know about me: Some people do not realize how hard I have worked to get where I am. For others, it is easy to be athletic and to be smart, but I have spent a lot of time trying to be those things. I have worked so hard to get to where I am today. I will continue working hard and trying to be the best person and friend I can be.
By Mary Jane Souder
Mention the name Lindsey O’Brien, and her coaches echo a similar refrain.
“Lindsey is the sweetest kid,” Council Rock North field hockey coach Heather Whalin said. “The team adores her. There is not one person on the team that does not love her.”
“I call her ‘Smiley’ because she always has a smile on her face and is one of the kindest players on the field,” Rock North lacrosse coach Denise Noseworthy said.
And just how kind is O’Brien? Noseworthy recounts a lacrosse game when the Rock North senior was a sophomore.
“Someone ran her over on the field and she got up to see if they were okay,” the Indians’ lacrosse coach said. “She is truly a class act.”
Heading into the fall season, Whalin wasn’t quite sure how O’Brien’s gentle nature would work when she assumed the role of captain. She needn’t have worried.
“I was so happy – she grew into a leader that this team needed,” Whalin said. “She was not afraid to sit the team down and tell them what we were doing wrong as a team.
“She was the tough one. Sometimes we would come off the field at halftime, and she would say, ‘We’re not playing the way coach teaches us how to play’ and would get on people’s butts, and I loved it because that’s not the kind of kid she was.
“Last year, she took the backseat and just played. This year she really stepped into that leadership role. We needed that leader to get the young kids to buy into the program, and they really did.”
O’Brien would be the first to admit she found herself in an unfamiliar position.
“It was definitely different from previous seasons,” she said. “Since we had more practices than games, I was able to help more and show people how to do things.
“I had to be more controlling. If the team was messing around, I had to be the one to keep them on track. There were times if people weren’t listening or if they were being straight out mean, I had to take it in my hands and tell them that’s not how you’re supposed to act as a team member, as a player, as a student – that’s not acceptable.”
Listening to Whalin tell it, O’Brien brought leadership qualities that were missing last year.
“She wasn’t a yeller, so when she was stern about something, the entire team listened to her,” the Indians field hockey coach said. “They knew she was going out and doing just as much as they were. That’s what I loved about her this year.”
Field hockey has always been the sport of choice for O’Brien, an all-state honorable mention selection last fall.
“There’s a picture of me at a Neshaminy field hockey camp, and it’s so funny because my shorts go to my knees,” O’Brien said. “I’m wearing normal clothes, not stuff I’d be wearing now. That’s the first picture we have of me playing a sport.”
O’Brien’s grandfather – a physical education instructor - had an inkling she might excel in sports, telling her mother after a backyard ball toss when she was a youngster that Lindsey had good hand-eye coordination.
With the encouragement of her parents, O’Brien tried her hand at numerous sports – lacrosse, soccer, softball, basketball and cheerleading. Lacrosse and field hockey were the hands down winners.
“I like the teams I have been playing on, the girls are great,” O’Brien said. “The sports are kind of similar – one’s in the air and one’s on the ground. A lot of people play both, and both of them are really fun to me.
“I have a good time doing team sports and knowing I can rely on my teammates to do their job and me wanting to be there for them too. The thing I didn’t like about softball – when you’re up to bat, all the eyes are on you, and there’s no one around you. Even practicing with my parents, I could hit the ball, but I guess I got stage fright.”
A varsity starter in hockey since she was a freshman, O’Brien – a member of Mystx on the club circuit since she was 11 - has been a fixture in the midfield.
“Her natural position in life should be a defensive mid,” Whalin said. “As a defensive mid, she just sees the field so well, and she knows where to make the passes.”
This past fall, O’Brien was moved to the defensive backfield out of necessity.
“We were down a couple of players because of COVID and one of our best defenders got mono, so I had to push Lindsey back to center back because we needed her there,” Whalin said. “Luckily, she’s as adaptable as she is, and she did an amazing job.
“We lost a push on offense because the majority of the season she played defense but did it without saying a word because she knew it’s what we needed.”
The Indians’ abbreviated season was not without speed bumps and was halted for two weeks due to COVID breakout at Council Rock North.
“It was very confusing because we weren’t able to go to school,” O’Brien said. “We didn’t know if we’d be able to come back.
“When we did, some teams were scared to play our team even though there was no one on our team that had it, but I was so thankful that other teams were still willing to play us, and we were able to come back and finish our season.”
In a season of uncertainty, O’Brien had her own personal highlight – the presence of her father, Todd O’Brien, on the sidelines.
“My dad is in the Coast Guard, and field hockey occurs during prime hurricane season, so every year except senior year he got deployed and missed a lot of the games,” O’Brien said. “He’s usually there for the beginning, and he would even come to some practices to watch because he loved watching me play so much.
“It was really hard to have such an important person in my life not be present, and it was really nice having him around. Both my parents have been so supportive of me.”
“Lindsey’s dad is one of her biggest champions,” Whalin said. “She’s had a lot of years when her dad’s been gone and missed most of her season. She has an amazing family.”
O’Brien also has been an integral member of the lacrosse team that did not have a season last spring.
“This group of girls have been playing together since middle school,” she said. “We’re very close, and it was so weird to just have the season stopped.
“We didn’t know if we’d be able to go back, so we tried to stay in shape, tried to get touches on our stick in the off time, but it never came back. We said, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll get some stuff in the summer,’ but nothing was able to happen, so hopefully, this year we’ll be able to play again.”
A key member of the defense, O’Brien earned high praise from her coach.
“She is part of my core four in defense,” Noseworthy said. “She can run sideways and backwards better that anyone I have ever seen.”
The absence of a season, according to O’Brien, changed everyone’s perspective.
“Usually you’re like, ‘Give it your all like there’s no tomorrow,’ and that was it for every single game,” she said. “So everyone had that much more effort, that much more energy, and we were able to work together more because we were all looking to just being able to play and hoping our games would continue and we wanted it to be our best game.”
Next fall, O’Brien will continue her field hockey career at Babson College, one of the nation’s top business schools with an acceptance rate of less than 25 percent.
“From the beginning, I wanted to major in business – I was interested in business analytics,” she said. “My cousin recently graduated from Babson, and my dad grew up in Wellesley, so I knew about Babson. First I looked at schools with good business programs and then I saw where I could fit in for field hockey.”
Several years ago, O’Brien attended a clinic at Babson.
“I loved Babson from the beginning – they were my top choice,” she said. “I want to be able to focus on my education and still be able to focus on field hockey, so I wasn’t really interested in a D-1 school because I felt like field hockey might take away from my education, and I didn’t want that to happen.
“At Babson, I will get a good balance of both. I will have a great academic career and I’ll still be able to play field hockey and still have that college experience. I’m so excited.”
“Lindsey could have played D-1 easily,” Whalin said. “She had people look at her for D-1, but she knew she wanted the academics.”
An excellent student, O’Brien – who earned PA High School Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Academic recognition last fall - is enrolled in two AP as well as honors classes. She is active in Athletes Helping Athletes and also volunteered at her church pre-COVID.
Ask O’Brien what competing in sports has added to her high school experience, and she has an immediate answer.
“I think my best memories are the friends I met on the way,” she said said. “I feel like I’m not really going to remember my classes or the different things I learned, but I hope I will stay connected with these friends, with my coaches.”