RUNNING FOR FAMILY PRIDE…AND A TURKEY
At the annual Turkey Trot in East Brunswick, New Jersey, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the winner of each age category takes home a turkey. Heather O’Reilly ran every year she could, showing up in her green soccer jersey, fresh off the field. “For a good many years, my mom never had to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving. Heather won every year,” says Heather’s brother Steve. Heather’s memory of her first year running has stuck with her, “For the little kids, they had your parents line up and you basically ran to your mom. I remember running so hard, and then my mom scooping me up, yelling, ‘You won! You won! You got the turkey!’ She grabbed me so hard. She was so happy that I won the race. It was cool to see my mom so proud and happy.”
O’Reilly liked the way it felt to make her family proud. She had three older brothers, “I wanted to impress them, I wanted them to be like, ‘Oooh look at my sister!’ They just loved it if I would beat one of their friends in basketball or in a race. And at a young age, that’s what drove me; that was really important to my early motivation. I got this confidence about being fast, about being able to hang with the guys, being encouraged by my brothers.”
“It just happens; when I’m going hard, when I’m very intense. As more photos were taken of me, then you realize, ‘Wow, I do make a face, like all the time.’” Interestingly, the game face runs in the family. Her brothers, talented track runners in high school, all shared the trademark O’Reilly scowl, “In photos, they’d be straining and I’d be like, ‘Geez, your face is so intense.’ And then it’s in every one of my soccer photos. I wear my heart on my sleeve.”
The veteran is also a leader in the community – she works with America Scores, an inner-city outreach program that couples soccer with literacy building, and Right to Play, an international organization that helps instill life skills via sport.
FROM ROOKIE TO VETERAN
O’Reilly, commonly known as “HAO,” got her first call up to the National Team when she was still in high school. Her childhood best friend Lindsey Berger remembers her coming home from a weekend away and saying, “You’ll never believe where I just was; I was at Mia Hamm’s house!” Now, the kid who was once struck dumb by her chance to hang with Mia Hamm, sees herself as a bridge between generations. “I think it’s cool that I can help pass along the traditions, the attitudes, and the approach to training that’s unique: very serious, very intense, but also full of joy that I learned from the ‘99 generation.”
“I’ve spent half of my life on this team. I’ve worn a lot of different hats, had a lot of different roles,” says O’Reilly. “Going into the 2015 World Cup, I’m very proud to be a veteran, but we definitely feel like there’s unfinished business. We have three Olympic gold medals– but there’s one glaring omission from the resume.”
U.S. National Team: Played in her first world championship at the senior level at the 2004 Olympics and was the second-youngest player on the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team … The youngest player named to the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup roster and the youngest gold medal winner on the 2004 Olympic team … In the 2000s, she won a championship for either college, club or country in eight of the 10 years of the decade.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her third World Cup selection... Has appeared in five games for the U.S. so far this year, starting one at the Algarve Cup and upping her career caps with the WNT to 220 (as of June 29, 2015)... Made her first appearance in the 2015 World Cup in the quarterfinal match against China... Helped the U.S. to its 10th Algarve Cup title ... Has played in nine of the USA's 10 Algarve Cup title runs.... 2014: Became the ninth U.S. female player to hit 200 caps after reaching the milestone against Korea DPR on March 12 at the Algarve Cup … Heads into 2015 in seventh on the USA’s all-time list with Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone the only active players ahead of her … She was the second-youngest player to hit 200 caps for the USA: Kristine Lilly was 28 years old, 9 months, 15 days when she earned cap No. 200 on May 7, 2000 and O’Reilly was 29 years old, 2 months, 10 days when she earned her 200th cap … Played in 22 matches, tied for second most on the team, and started 10 games … Played 1,116 minutes and scored four goals with five assists, upping her international goal total to 41 and becoming just the 13th U.S. female player to score 40 or more goals … Scored twice against Russia in back-to-back games and got a goal against Korea DPR at the Algarve Cup … Also scored against Mexico … Was a member of the U.S. team that won the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, playing in four matches … 2013: Was one of the most consistent players on the WNT, leading the team in minutes played with 1,143 and was the only player to play more than 1,000 minutes … Tied for second on the team in matches played with 14 while starting 12 and scored one goal (against New Zealand) with four assists … 2012: Played 1,458 minutes in 27 matches, the second-most of any year in her WNT career, and started 17 … Had six goals and 13 assists – the second-most on the U.S. team – in what was her second-best scoring year ever … Played in four matches at the Olympics, starting two, and had one of the biggest assists in U.S. history with her cross to Alex Morgan for the game-winning goal in 123rd minute of the Olympic semifinal win against Canada … She came into the semifinal during overtime in the 101st minute and ran down Abby Wambach’s pass on the right wing before sending in the fateful service … Started three games at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament and had four goals and three assists … Registered her first career hat trick against the Dominican Republic in the first match of Olympic qualifying … 2011:Started all 18 games she played for the USA and her 1,418 minutes were fourth-best on the team … Scored three goals with three assists to hit 30 career goals and tie Brandi Chastain for 13th on the USA’s all-time scoring list … Started five games at the Women’s World Cup, her second World Cup tournament at the senior level, and scored one goal with one assist … Her fantastic shot from distance against Colombia in the USA’s second group game was one of the 10 finalists for FIFA Goal of the Year and gave her three career goals in the WWC … Missed the USA’s final group match against Sweden at the WWC with a minor injury … Passed 150 career caps, becoming just the 16th U.S. player to reach the mark … Broke the U.S. record for consecutive matches played (previously held by Carla Overbeck at 63), playing in 74 straight games from 8/12/07 to 1/21/11 … 2010: Played in all 18 matches for the USA, starting 17, while scoring two goals with six assists … Scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory against China in Kennesaw, Ga., in October and scored in a 4-0 triumph against Germany in May … With 27 career goals at the end of 2010, she moved into the list of top-15 all-time goal scorers in U.S. history … Played in all five matches at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament while registering three assists … Started both legs against Italy in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup playoff series …2009: Played in all eight matches for the WNT, starting seven, and had a team-leading three assists … Moved into the top 25 in all-time caps … 2008: Had her best scoring year ever for the WNT (10 goals, 10 assists), becoming just the sixth female player in U.S. history to tally double figures in goals and assists in a calendar year … In 2008, she more than doubled her career assists … Started 33 of the 36 matches she played, leading the team in games played, while earning her minutes almost entirely at flank midfield … Set U.S. records for most games played in a year (36) and most consecutive games played in a year (36) … Scored against Italy at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea … Got a key goal in the victory against Costa Rica during Olympic qualifying that sent the USA to China … Started all six games at the Olympics and was the second leading scorer for the USA with two goals and three assists … She got a goal in the first-round win against New Zealand, which was the fastest goal in Olympics history coming just 40 seconds into the game … Also scored in the Olympic semifinal against Japan, where she also had two assists to Angela Hucles … Had a huge assist in the quarterfinal win against Canada … Scored the winning goal in the USA’s final match of the year, a 1-0 victory against China in Detroit … Scored four times on the USA’s Achieve Your Gold Tour following the Olympics … 2007: Played in 22 games, starting 15, and had her best-ever scoring year to date with seven goals … Scored twice at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, including a crucial tying goal against Korea DPR in the first match of the tournament … Played in all six games at the WWC, starting five … Also scored against Norway in the third-place match … Scored one of her best goals on a blast against Canada on May 12 … Also scored against England at the Four Nations Tournament in January … 2006: Played in 14 matches, starting 11, and scored three goals … Played in three matches at the Four Nations Tournament, starting one … Had an excellent tournament in starting all four matches at the Algarve Cup and played 90 minutes for the first time against Denmark, a match in which she scored twice ... It was the first two-goal game of her career … Also scored against Ireland … 2005: Played in all four matches at the Algarve Cup, starting one, which was her first start since breaking her leg in June of 2003 … Played in seven matches during the year, starting three, and scored one goal, that against Ukraine in Portland, Ore. … 2004: Named U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Athlete of the Year … Played in 12 matches off the bench and made a late run during the Olympic Residency Camp to earn a spot on the roster for Greece … Picked up two assists in her first match after being named to the Olympic roster during a 3-1 win against Australia … Scored one of the most important goals in U.S. history in overtime against Germany in the Olympic semifinal off an assist from Mia Hamm to help the USA to a 2-1 win … 2003: Earned 10 caps and scored two goals, but suffered a broken fibula in her left leg on June 14 against Ireland in Salt Lake City just 74 seconds into the game after colliding with the Irish goalkeeper while scoring her third full National Team goal … Did not recover sufficiently in time to make the Women’s World Cup Team … 2002: Played in eight games, including her debut against Sweden at the Algarve Cup, and scored her first full international goal against Italy at the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup in Cary, N.C. … At the age of 17, she earned four caps at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March of 2002, playing against Sweden, England, Norway and Denmark … Youth National Teams: A key player on the USA’s 2002 U-19 World Championship team, scoring four goals with seven assists to help the USA to the first-ever world championship for youth women … Played a part in the golden goal against Canada in the USA’s 1-0 win in the championship game, keeping a cross alive with a hard near-post run before Lindsay Tarpley finished it to end the game … She scored 18 goals in 18 U-19 internationals … A member of the 2002 Under-19 CONCACAF Qualifying Team, she helped the USA qualify for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship, playing in all three matches and scoring seven goals with four assists ... A member of the USA’s 2005 U-21 Nordic Cup title team, scoring four goals in four matches including one in the championship game win against Norway … First Appearance: March 1, 2002, vs. Sweden … First Goal: Oct. 6, 2002, vs. Italy.
Professional / Club – 2014: Traded from the Boston Breakers to FC Kansas City on Oct. 27 in exchange for forward Morgan Marlborough and defender Kassey Kallman … Started 21 of the 22 games she played for the Breakers during the 2014 season, leading the team in scoring with nine goals and five assists … Was by far the team leader in shots (53) and shots on goal (34) … Named to the NWSL Second XI … 2013: Allocated to the Boston Breakers for the 2013 NWSL season, starting all 20 games in which she played … Played 1,734 minutes and scored five goals with six assists to finish third on the team in scoring … 2012: Signed with the Boston Breakers for the 2012 WPS season before the league folded … 2011: Played 929 minutes for her home state Sky Blue FC, starting 10 of the 11 matches she played … Scored one goal with one assist … 2010: Started all 22 games she played in for Sky Blue while playing every minute of those games … Scored one goal with a team-leading five assists and was named to the WPS All-Star Team … 2009: Allocated to Sky Blue FC in her home state of New Jersey for the inaugural WPS season … Played every minute in each of her 17 matches during the regular season, helping Sky Blue to a fourth-place finish in the league and the final playoff berth … She then helped lead Sky Blue to an emotional three-game playoff run, winning all three matches on the road, and scored the winning goal in the WPS championship game victory against Los Angeles … Named MVP of the WPS Championship Game but, in the post-game interview, deferred the honor to Christie Rampone … Youth Club: Played from 1994-99 for the East Brunswick Dynamite, then switched to the PDA Splash for two years and the PDA Torpedoes for one year … Won state titles with the Dynamite in 1994 and 1995 and with the Splash in 2001.