Kylie O’Donnell, Heart of a Lion

Kylie O’Donnell, senior nursing major at The College, is one of three captains on the Lion’s women’s varsity basketball team. The team ended their season in the semi-finals of the NJAC playoffs. They lost in an extremely close game to Montclair State University, 58-53.

O’Donnell is this week’s Campus Celebrity not only for her accomplishments on the court, but also for her involvement and leadership positions in other organizations at The College. In addition to playing varsity basketball, she is a part of Sigma Theta Tau, the Nursing Honor Society, and is the treasurer of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society. She also sits on the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC).

O’Donnell is co-captain of the women’s varsity team with Jessica Goldbach and Kelly Coughlin. The three seniors have played together since making the team their freshman year. “My favorite part about playing for TCNJ is how much of a family it is,” said O’Donnell. “We all just play because we love to play. Just having that group of girls…it’s basically like a second family. We play for the same reason.”

One of O’Donnell’s most memorable moments of her senior season was winning the first round of playoffs against Patterson, 63-61. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season with injuries,” said O’Donnell. “We would win a couple games and lose a couple games.” The team pushed through and went on a winning streak, with seven straight victories, putting the Lions in fourth place and into the playoffs. “Winning that home game was like ‘wow we’ve really come a long way this season.’”

Losing two of the team’s starters to injuries, in the same game, at the beginning of the season, was an obstacle the team had to overcome, explained O’Donnell. The team worked together, knowing they would get through it, she said. “Everyone stuck with us, and our teammates trusted us as upperclassman.”

When asked to reflect on her proudest moment of the season, O’ Donnell said, “Our senior day this year, which was Valentine’s Day, alumni, freshmen, sophomores, all of our family and friends were there.” She enjoyed having her family there as well as the people that have watched her play since she was 8-years-old.  “I was happy my parents got to experience it.”

O’Donnell will continue to play basketball at a summer league at Rutgers Camden.

“I definitely want to get into coaching, whether it’s assisting, but maybe down the line even pursue head coaching,” she said. “I’ll always stay around the sport.”

After graduating this May, she plans to take the State Boards exam for nursing and then begin applying to positions at hospitals. She is interested in being placed on a Med-Surg, or critical care floor.

When asked to leave her team a piece of advice for next year, she said, “Looking at the season that we’ve had, never give up, no matter what. If it’s basketball or life, just find a way to get through it.” She added a saying that resonates with her teammates, “It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to what happens to you.”