11 Questions with Kelley O'Hara
ussoccer.com: You’ve been working very hard to get yourself into the mix for the WNT. What are the key factors for a young player to make rosters, get into games, and get minutes?
Kelley O’Hara: “If I knew that, I might have a few more caps! Just kidding, I think the main thing for me over the past year or so has been becoming comfortable with the team and getting confident with myself at this level, which I think I lacked at the beginning. Now, I’m starting to feel comfortable and confident and I think that allows me to play up to my abilities. There are other factors of course, being fit, being a professional, and knowing that this is a full-time job, not just showing up to camp and expecting to do well.”
ussoccer.com: Your feats on the USA’s fitness tests are fast becoming legendary. You currently hold the U.S. WNT record in the beep test. What are you thinking when you are getting to the end of those final few painful sprints?
KO: “Well, besides thinking that I might just collapse, I am thinking about Finding Nemo: Just keep moving, just keep moving, just keep moving, moving, moving. Actually, I just get into a groove at the end and I know when I’m at the point of being done, I just tell myself to do three more. And even if I could do more, if I’ve done that last three, I’m done.”
ussoccer.com: What parts of your game do you most want to improve?
KO: “I want to improve on reading the game and decision-making, basically whatever Pia tells me to do. I also want to improve my technique and I want to be able to hit crosses to the point where they are almost perfect every time. I want to become super consistent and accurate because as a flank midfielder, your effectiveness on crossing is a key to being productive.”
ussoccer.com: What were the main ways that playing for the WPS champion FC Gold Pride last season helped your development?
KO: “I think that being around players like Marta and Christine Sinclair and Shannon Boxx allowed me to watch and observe these high level players in the way that they trained, in the way that they hold the ball and shoot to score. You learn a lot just being in that environment. Having to show up to work every day and perform really teaches you a lot about being a professional player.”
ussoccer.com: You are a Stanford graduate. Does anyone make jokes that you graduated from Stanford to get a job…playing soccer?
KO: “No, no one makes fun of me, but a lot of my Stanford friends do think it’s cool that I play soccer as a job. I feel very privileged to be able to do this and also have a Stanford degree. Most of friends are doing the 9-to-5 thing working for non-profits or clean energy companies or Teach for America, which is all fantastic work, but this is what I am passionate about so I feel lucky to be able to have a job that I love.”
ussoccer.com: You are from Georgia, but you don’t like sweet tea or have a hint of a southern accent. What gives?
KO: “Well, both my parents are from Pittsburgh and I’ve just never liked sweet tea. But even though I love Georgia dearly, I do think that I might fit better in California. But don’t forget that I love college football, Chick-fil-A and Vineyard Vines!”
Editor’s Note: Vineyard Vines is a southern brand of preppy clothes.
ussoccer.com: What’s your philosophy on coping with the amount of time the U.S. WNT players have to spend on the road and away from home?
KO: “I just really enjoy the time when I’m back at home. Mostly I go home to the Bay Area, but that does feel like home to me because I’ve lived there for five years. I just have a group of great friends there and people at Stanford and I’ve just come to really love that area, so I try to enjoy it as much as I can when I’m back. It reenergizes me and gets me ready for the next camp.”
ussoccer.com: What would it mean to you to score your first international goal here at the Algarve Cup?
KO: “It would be awesome! I hope it happens and hopefully I can keep it going from there.”
ussoccer.com: If you got an invitation to the Royal Wedding, would you go?
KO: “Absolutely. But not only to see the amazing pomp and circumstance, I think Prince Harry is a very attractive fellow and I would chat him up at the wedding and see if I could get his BBM Pin or Skype name. We are going to England in a few weeks, so who knows? Magic might happen.”
Editor’s Note: Princess Kelley? Sounds pretty good to us.
ussoccer.com: What’s your outlook on this season with your new club, the Boston Breakers?
KO: “I’m very excited to be a part of the Boston Breakers and to go into my second season in WPS. I’m hoping to have another great year and hopefully be a help to the team, do my part and maybe win another championship. We have a lot of national team players and I’m really excited to play with them on the club level and to get to know my new teammates as well.”
ussoccer.com: Even though you are from Georgia, you have taken a liking to surfing. What’s the biggest wave you’ve ever stood up on?
KO: “Probably like five or six feet. I never go out if the waves are dangerous at all, but I must say I’ve taken a few beatings out there. At first, I used to get really freaked out when I got caught under a wave, but I’ve come to get more comfortable and just wait for it to end. I’m not good at it by any means, but I just enjoy being out in the water. It’s an active sport and so peaceful, but energizing even though your body is so tired when you get out of the water.”