Caroline O’Reilly ’18, a senior midfielder from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, is planning to lead the women’s field hockey team to playoffs and win NESCACs, but she wants to focus on the fundamentals first.
Her field hockey career took off in sixth grade, after her parents told her they would not allow her to play ice hockey. “My brothers both played [ice] hockey, and I just felt so left out so I figured field hockey was the closest thing,” O’Reilly remembers. She convinced her younger sister to play and now they bond over the experiences playing in college. “She really gets what it’s like to be a college athlete so we call each other to talk about our experiences,” she explains. But since her sister plays at a different school, O’Reilly’s Bates teammates have become her family.
To her teammates, she’s “Little Caroline,” but her presence on the field is far from little. “It didn’t happen right away, but I can confidently say that I’ve found my voice on the field and on the team, and it’s just so different from where I was as a freshman. I was so quiet,” O’Reilly admits. “I get so excited to go to practice each day now, and I always come ready to work, smile, laugh and, most importantly, have fun while I do it.”
Underneath her winning smile is a tenacious, hard-working athlete. Her highlight of the season thus far was beating Connecticut College on Saturday Oct. 7, where O’Reilly scored the final goal in Bates’ 3-1 win. O’Reilly’s pregame rituals include eating peanut butter crackers in the locker room and listening to music, and it clearly works for her.
During preseason, the field hockey team took a kayaking trip together to bond off the field, and O’Reilly believes the teams’ success this year can be attributed to that bonding experience. After the win against Connecticut College, O’Reilly is excited for the future of this year’s team. “I’m really looking forward to using our win as momentum to shoot us forward,” she says. “We have a lot of potential on this team, and this cohesive unit has what it takes to be successful.”
As a senior, she wants to lead by example in focusing less on the big picture, and more on the individual steps to get where they want to go. For her, this means focusing on a good night’s sleep, eating healthy food, and showing up to practice in the right mindset. It also includes watching film of her own game on nights where her friends get to go out, but she will do whatever it takes and is confident that her team feels the same way. O’Reilly’s focus after this weekend has moved to the next game, and what she personally needs to do to make sure the team secures that win.
When reflecting on her growth from freshman to senior year off the field, O’Reilly considers her study habits and time management skills to have improved immensely. Writing thesis in-season this year is proving to be tough, but O’Reilly feels the last three seasons have prepared her for balancing school and sports. It also helps that she is passionate about her subject. O’Reilly is combining her Spanish major and Education minor to focus on Special Education, specifically looking at children’s literature in Spain and the United States. “I’m working hard to keep up with my thesis chapters, so I can really focus on the coming [field hockey] games,” she says. “It’s my last season and I need to be more focused than ever.”
Come support Bates Field Hockey and O’Reilly next weekend, Oct. 14 and 15, as they take on Tufts and Amherst on the JB turf, and secure two more wins to propel them to their end goal.