Kelley-Ohara

2016 is shaping up to be another big year for defender Kelley O’Hara. In 2015, Kelley was part of the U.S. women’s national soccer team that brought home the trophy in Canada. This summer, she’s hoping to be back on the international stage to help her country win another piece of hardware. Even though she already won this tournament back in 2012, she’s as motivated as ever to repeat as world champions.

Can her squad be the last team standing once again? Only time will tell, but based on her rigorous training and driven attitude, no one wants it more.

“Preparation is 100 percent mental and 100 percent physical,” Kelley said. “It’s everything. If you can get one percent better in every area, you’re going to be better than your opponent.”

To stay on the top of her game as the pressure rises, Kelley knows she has to stay focused. “It’s just a grind in all aspects,” the defender said. “Your mind is going to start telling your body you don’t want to do this anymore, but if you can control your mind, you can keep pushing.”

At 27 years old, she has overcome a lot in her career, including a serious ankle injury in 2013 that cut her season short and forced her to have reconstructive surgery. But Kelley used the recovery time as fuel to get even better. “I can say it went smoothly overall, but there were definitely times when I thought, ‘This is not going well,’” she said. “You kind of feel bad for yourself for a little bit, and then you just go to physical therapy, keep pushing through, and hope for the best.”

That will to continue has never been questioned, though. If you need an example of Kelley’s toughness and drive, you can look back to the quarterfinal matchup between U.S. and China last summer. Kelley suffered an accidental headbutt from a Chinese player that caused blood to flow down her face. With what was thought to be a broken nose at the time, Kelley soldiered on, refusing treatment until she was ordered to do so by the referee. Despite being subbed out, her never-quit attitude solidified her as one of the toughest players on the pitch, and she’s hoping to bring that same toughness to the team this summer.

As August approaches, you can bet Kelley is more motivated than ever. She wants to win for her country, her teammates, her coaches, and for herself. “It’s an honor and a privilege because I’m living my dream job and my dream life,” she said. “I love to play soccer, but I also love the fact that I can inspire younger girls, not just to be professional athletes, but to be their best self and go after what they want in their life.”