Favorite athlete: Carli Lloyd
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: During my sophomore field hockey season, I had a hat trick against a very challenging team and we ended up winning the game.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: During a field hockey corner, my teammate and I were the designated “flyers” depending on who was closer to the ball. On the corner, we both thought the other person would go out to the ball, so we ended up just standing in the middle of the circle. Needless to say everyone sort of stopped and even the person hitting the ball hesitated because no one came towards her. Our coach was not happy with that one.
Music on mobile device: Everything Taylor Swift!
Future plans: In the fall I will be attending Rider University and double majoring in Computer Science and Graphic Design.
Words to live by: “The only competition that matters is the one that takes place within yourself.” -Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks Head Coach)
One goal before turning 30: Have a successful job, find ways to enhance lives through technology, and start a family.
One thing people don’t know about me: I used to bring a mesh bag full of sports equipment to my siblings’ sporting events and play games on the sidelines.
By Mary Jane Souder
Liz O’Hara’s legacy at Souderton won’t have anything to do with the number of goals she’s scored or prevented during her three-year varsity career on the field hockey and lacrosse teams. As a matter of fact, it won’t have anything to do with what the Souderton senior has done. Rather, O’Hara’s legacy will have everything to do with who she is.
Souderton athletic director Dennis Stanton recalls a sweltering hot day last summer when the field hockey team – with O’Hara as one of its captains – had just completed a timed run.
“I remember them walking off the field, and this one freshman – it was her first time doing it, and she’s just exhausted,” Stanton said. “It’s a 90-degree day in August, and I said, ‘This is really tough, isn’t it?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, but when I see Liz O’Hara, it makes if all easy.’”
It’s a moment Stanton hasn’t forgotten, and it speaks volumes about O’Hara.
“We want our freshmen and we want our sophomores to look up to our seniors,” the Souderton AD said. “Liz did not just pay lip service to being an enthusiastic positive leader.
“Liz did it every single day. Her legacy is going to live on for a long time in a lot of different sports as well as academically.”
Academically, O’Hara is quite literally at the top of the class. Named the valedictorian of the Class of 2018, she will be speaking at Souderton’s graduation on June 11. It should hardly come as a surprise that O’Hara displays the same smarts on the athletic field.
“She can anticipate an opponent’s play and comes up with these crazy interceptions,” Souderton lacrosse coach Nancy Offner said. “She’s just one of the smartest and most unselfish players you’ll ever see.
“She’s your great all-around kid. She’s kind, she’s smart, and she’s helpful. Everyone loves her – all the players love her, all the coaches love her.”
Even, it turns out, the coaches who are no longer coaching O’Hara. The senior opted to not go out for the basketball team this year, but Souderton coach Lynn Carroll is still eager to talk about her former player.
“You’re not going to find a better kid, you’re not,” the Indians’ coach said. “She’s just a solid kid through and through and the ultimate team player.”
Last year, O’Hara was the first underclassman to receive the Tom and Sue Welch Memorial Scholarship, an award given in memory of the former Souderton assistant who lost his battle with cancer in 2013. Three years later his wife Sue - the basketball team’s biggest fan - also passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
“The award is given to the player who has an altruistic approach to their participation in our program,” Carroll said. “It’s just genuine people who want to do what’s best for whatever they’re involved in. That is true of Liz no matter what she’s doing.”
And O’Hara does a lot. She is a member of the National Honor Society and is involved with the school’s LINK Crew, student government and the Athletic Leadership Council.
Early in the school year, she was actively involved in planning and promoting the women’s symposium SAHS Young Women Rising: I am That Girl. O’Hara developed the web site and did a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure the day ran smoothly.
“We asked each 5th Block classroom to donate supplies to be sent to the Laurel House,” she said. “Also, during the week leading up to the event, we had gift baskets out during lunches that students could buy tickets for. Prizes included an Eagles jersey, gift cards for local businesses and having an administrator’s parking spot for a week.”
It was an experience that impacted O’Hara’s career path, and she will double major in computer science and graphic design when she attends Rider University this fall.
“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do in college until recently,” she said. “I originally thought I wanted to be a physical therapist, but with the women’s symposium and all that work, I decided I like the computer technology and math sort of thing, but I also like digital art as well, so that's a way to combine my love for technology and also my love for digital arts as well.”
O’Hara is the fourth of her four siblings to attend Rider University.
With four older siblings who all competed in sports, it’s easy to understand why sports have been a major part of O’Hara’s life since her earliest recollection.
“I grew up on the sidelines of their games, so I’d always come to their sporting events with a mesh bag full of sporting equipment, and I’d make my mom stand on the sidelines and play with me the whole game, so she was barely watching them. They were definitely my biggest influencers.”
Basketball – a popular sport in the O’Hara family – was her first sport. She followed in the footsteps of her oldest sister Lauren and also played field hockey and lacrosse.
“It’s funny – I used to do field hockey and lacrosse camps with the boys and girls club, and I used to hate them when I was really, really little,” O’Hara said.
It was another story entirely when O’Hara arrived in middle school, and by the time she reached high school, she became an important contributor on both the field hockey and lacrosse squads.
O’Hara anchored the left midfield position for the Indians.
“On the left side especially, you’re guarding one of the other team’s best players since it’s their right side,” former Souderton coach Nicole Bauer said. “She’s a hustler at all times. That’s what she gave us – consistency and hustle all the time.
“She’s one of the hardest working people on the team. She also is hard working off the field and is just a great role model altogether.”
O’Hara was elected captain and was more than just a positive vocal leader.
“She was like the mom of the team – she’d be like, ‘Coach, do you want to remind us what time do we get out of school and what we should wear,”” Bauer said. “She always had a check list and wanted to make sure I was on my game.”
In lacrosse, O’Hara stepped into the varsity lineup as a low defender but was moved up to the midfield as a junior.
“Last year we needed someone on the circle who could come up with draws and things like that,” Offner said. “She’s just been great all over the field. Honestly, it’s the things you see as a coach that you may not see that much in the stats – like making the space, making the perfect cut, those things.
“She’s a very unselfish player, she makes space for others on attack – she understands that. I’m sure a lot of it comes from basketball because she’s a three-sport athlete.”
When O’Hara opted to not play basketball as a senior, she joined Souderton’s Unified Bocce team. Special Olympics Unified Sports brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together to compete.
“Oh my gosh, those kids are so excited to just be a part of something after school and to even develop a personal relationship with other students – it’s so awesome to see their positivity,” O’Hara said. “The coaches have done such a good job of developing it to a point where there are so many students that come out for the team.
“We actually had the Unified Sports banquet the other night, and they gave out varsity letters to all the graduating seniors. They were so excited. This is a whole different sports experience that I’m so glad I got.”
Ask O’Hara what she will take away from her high school sporting experience, and she points to the relationships she’s formed along the way.
“Even when I was an underclassman, afraid to talk to the upperclassmen, I still had friends from those sophomore and freshmen years that I keep up with,” she said. “The girls are now in college, but I still talk to them.
“Just being able to welcome the incoming classes of girls and getting them exited to be part of the program and finding ways to spark their interest and making them want to be involved and stick with it – those personal relationships I’ll never forget. I just met so many friends through all my sports teams.”
O’Hara plans to reflect on the past four years in her valedictory speech.
“It’s kind of nostalgic in a way,” she said of the speech. “I try to mention little things that relate to the whole class and define those little things that have connected us through the past four years.”
O’Hara’s selection as valedictorian is, in her own words, “the cherry on top of my high school career.” And what a high school career it has been.
“Looking back, it’s all gone so fast, and it’s hard to see where the time went, but if you really sit down and look at all the people you’ve met and all the cool things you’ve gotten involved in, it’s really hard to leave,” she said. “But I know there’s a good future ahead. There’s a lot of new opportunities and roads to take, so I’m still excited for the future.”
Sports will play a part of O’Hara’s future – she plans to be involved in the university’s club lacrosse and Unified Bowling teams.
“They don’t have club field hockey, but I hope to start it,” O’Hara said.
Although O’Hara is graduating in June, she will not soon be forgotten.
“I want to raise my kid as good as that,” Carroll said. “Her character is second to none. She’s just such a good kid that she’s going to add a lot of positive things to whatever it is she’s involved in.”