Who Is Kelley O'Hara? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup

She's kicking major butt.

Who Is Kelley O’Hara? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup getty

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has advanced to the knockout round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup! In this round, the U.S. will face off against Spain, and if they win, will advance to the quarter-finals in a match against France on June 28th. In the group round, they defeated Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, and Sweden 2-0, and assuming they make it all the way to the finals, will play that game on July 7th.


The U.S. team is the most successful team in international women’s soccer. They’ve won three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. And they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

A team who wins as much as them deserves a big pay day, but the entire team filed a recent lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming the Federation is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and aren’t paying the women’s team equally compared to the men’s team.

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While the lawsuit is ongoing, we’re curious to know about the personal lives of these amazing athletes. So, who is Kelley O’Hara? Here are five things to know about the defender for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

1. She began playing in her youth.



A post shared by Kelley O'Hara (@kelleyohara) on May 2, 2019 at 1:02pm PDT

O’Hara was on her high school’s varsity team all four years, and was the captain her last two years. In 2006, she helped her team finish second in the state championships, and was named Parade All-American, All-League, All-County, and All-State all four years. She was also named the 2006 Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) Player of the Year, Gatorade Georgia State Player of the Year, and NSCAA All-American.

But she also played on club teams during high school as a member of the Peachtree City Lazers, AFC Lightning, U.S. U-16s, the U-17 youth women’s national team, and Concorde Fire South ‘88 Elite.


2. She continued playing in college.



A post shared by Kelley O'Hara (@kelleyohara) on Apr 20, 2019 at 9:37am PDT

O’Hara attended Stanford University, playing on The Cardinal from 2006 to 2009, and setting the school records at 57 goals and 32 assists. She won the 2009 Hermann Trophy and before graduating college, was playing for the semi-pro Pali Blues. She also majored in science, technology, and society, with a focus in environmental engineering. Smart and talented!

3. She immediately went pro.



A post shared by Kelley O'Hara (@kelleyohara) on May 26, 2019 at 7:24am PDT

She was drafted to the FC Gold Pride in 2010, playing for one season. She was then signed by the Boston Breakers in 2010, before signing with the Atlanta Beat in 2012, shortly before it folded. In 2013, O’Hara began playing for Sky Blue FC, where she began playing multiple positions: forward, right-back, central midfielder, and winger.


In 2017, she was traded to Utah Royals FC, but due to extensive injuries, only appeared in 8 games through 2018. According to her, though she was sad to make the move to the Royals, she was excited and enjoys playing for them: “My favorite part is how well the club is run — I feel like a professional athlete. I guess I never realize that I craved that, it’s awesome. I’m so, so thankful. It takes your game to another level.”

She’s currently on this team, as well as playing for USWNT. But if that’s not impressive enough, O’Hara competed in the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups, and played every minute of the 2012 Olympics, where the U.S. took home the gold.

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4. Her teammates and coaches can’t say enough great things about her.



A post shared by Kelley O'Hara (@kelleyohara) on Jun 16, 2019 at 6:27am PDT

Jill Ellis, the USWNT coach, has known O’Hara since she played on youth national teams.


Ellis appreciates O’Hara’s comeback from her injuries, saying, “I just know she’s a player that brings a consistency in her energy and her focus and her intensity. She kind of embodies a lot of the qualities that are this program, in terms of competitiveness, even if I sometimes used to grimace a little bit in training when she’s hammering the s*** out of her own teammates... I’ve always found her to be somebody who puts the team first. That’s who she is... what I know about Kelley and who she is innately, it doesn’t surprise me that she’s still a very important piece of this team”

And her Royals coach, Laura Harvey, agrees: “The reality is that she’s a winner, and winners are often crazy in a good way. She wants to win at everything, whether it’s a warmup, a league game, the World Cup. And when you want it like that, the crazy does come out a little bit, in a good way. She challenges herself and everyone around her to be better in everything.”

One of her teammates, Becky Sauerbrunn, adds that O’Hara has a fiery nature about her: “I say this kind of jokingly, kind of seriously, but she is that player you need who’s a little crazy on the field. You’re so glad she’s on your team and you’re not going against her. She’s going to get in between tackles, she’s going to yell at people, she’s going to get in people’s faces. She just brings this added energy.”

5. She’s dealt with serious injuries that put her career on hold.



A post shared by Kelley O'Hara (@kelleyohara) on Jun 24, 2019 at 4:00am PDT

In 2017, it was just the beginning of her injuries, where she suffered a hamstring strain and kept her out of the U.S. lineup that summer.


But how does O’Hara deal with it? According to her, “It demands a lot of patience, and it’s not easy. I am a very happy-go-lucky person, but injury and rehab and being away from the game and the doubt and uncertainty that comes with those sort of things is probably the hardest part of the job or one of them. So it has been a less than ideal year. I’m trying to take the positives from it and enjoy when I do feel good.”

“The past year has been a bit of a roller coaster for me, just dealing with injuries and a lot of time thinking I was out of the woods and clear of all the injuries and things come back up and obviously don’t go as planned. I’ve had a lot of uncertainty and I’ve felt very scared to be honest a lot of times in the past couple months, just not knowing if my body would get back to feeling like I have in the past. I tried to keep a good face but people close to me probably know it’s been hard,” she added.

And she’s been ready to kick butt with her teammates: “I want that so bad. That’s literally all I’ve been thinking about since we won in 2015, is I want to repeat in 2019. That’s something I’d love to say that I accomplished with this group of women. That’s all I want right now.”


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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.