Marquette's O'Brien Welcomes Rare Opportunity
Feb. 26, 2015
"When I was little I played a lot of different sports," O'Brien said. "In high school, I figure skated and started playing lacrosse. After my sophomore year I stopped figure skating and focused solely on lacrosse."
Now a junior, O'Brien is again a dual-sport athlete as she begins the 2015 lacrosse season, while making her indoor debut as a member of Marquette's track and field team.
"Maggie Smith, our (lacrosse) strength coach, tests us in the 25-yard sprint and she said `Wow, your time is comparable to the track girls,'" O'Brien said. "She had the track coach (Bert Rogers) come and watch me after I said I was interested in running track. I went to coach (Meredith) Black and said I feel like we can make this work if you're okay with it and she really encouraged it."
O'Brien came to Marquette with a pedigree of success after an accomplished high school career as a member of the Loyola Academy Ramblers girls' lacrosse team. She helped her team capture a state championship all four years as a member of the varsity team. During her junior year, she was named a second-team all-state defender, while Loyola posted a 21-2 record and was ranked No. 17 in the country. The following season, as a captain for the Ramblers, O'Brien led her team to a 22-3 mark and a No. 25 national ranking.
With all her success on the field, O'Brien continued to figure skate and compete regionally during high school.
As Meredith Black was working to build a brand-new women's lacrosse program an hour north in Milwaukee, recruiting a proven winner and leader was an easy decision.
"When Molly came to me and asked what I thought about this, I was of course 100 percent supportive," Black said. "The ability to have a two-sport, Division I athlete on your team is just unbelievable. I'm so proud of her and what she's been able to accomplish."
O'Brien has been a true student-athlete in her three years at Marquette. During the 2013 season, the elementary education major appeared in all 17 games for the Golden Eagles, while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA during the spring semester.
"(Balancing two sports and academics) has actually made me more disciplined, because you have smaller time slots to do things, so I've improved my time management," O'Brien said.
In 2014, she again appeared in all 17 games as a defender and, this winter, O'Brien has emerged as one of Rogers' top women's sprinters on the track and field squad.
"Lacrosse is a very team-oriented sport," O'Brien said. "Track is a different atmosphere, it's more individual and I like that. The competitiveness comes from within."
O'Brien made a successful track debut on Jan. 17, at the Wisconsin Open. In the final heat of the 60-meter dash, she placed fourth by running a time of 8.09 seconds. Always one to keep improving, O'Brien then ran the ninth-best time in Marquette history on Jan. 23, at the John Tierney Triangular, with a time of 7.88 seconds to take home first place in the event.
"I practice with track when I can, but I do explosive training around my lacrosse schedule," O'Brien said. "We work on (starting) blocks a lot, for a lot of people that's a hard thing to pick up, but I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. The 60-meter dash is so short if you don't start well it's tough."
A week before the Marquette women's lacrosse season got underway against No. 16/17 Johns Hopkins, O'Brien was able to compete in Minnesota at the Jack Johnson Classic on Jan. 30-31. That could be one of her last track competitions until the lacrosse season winds down, and although she cannot compete at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships this weekend (Feb. 28-March 1) as the lacrosse team will be in Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne, O'Brien has big plans come May.
"I'm going to try to make a few more meets, but then I really want to make the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships (May 8-9)," O'Brien said.
The sky is the limit for O'Brien, who seems to find success wherever she goes.
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