CCU Female Athlete of the Month: O’Leary makes mark

Coastal Carolina University freshman Charlotte O’Leary was looking for two things in a college – a degree in marine science and the chance to play lacrosse. The Holderness, NH native found both in Conway, SC.

“I was looking for schools in the South that had marine science and Coastal has a very strong program,” said O’Leary, who was named the Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront Myrtle Beach Resort Female Athlete of the Month. “It was actually my dad who initially found Coastal and we got very excited that it had my major and they had a new lacrosse program. By coming to Coastal I got to follow two of my dreams.”

But the benefits haven’t stopped in the classroom or on the lacrosse field. Being a part of Coastal’s first team has also resulted in a family-type atmosphere among her teammates and the chance to leave a lasting impression on the upstart program.

“I love being part of a team, and playing lacrosse has introduced me to some of my best friends. It’s been very fun getting to play a sport you love and be surrounded by close friends,” O’Leary said. “The best part of playing lacrosse at Coastal is that our team is the start of something new and we have a chance to represent (CCU).”

Such a path seemed unlikely when O’Leary was learning to play the sport and hoping for the chance to earn a college scholarship. Few schools, particularly in the South, field fully sanctioned teams rather than club-sport status and that has led to a high level of competition for the limited scholarship opportunities.

“Women’s lacrosse, and lacrosse in general, is a growing sport all down the East Coast,” O’Leary said. “Every summer, thousands of kids travel all over to play in tournaments just hoping to get recruited to play in college. The competition has increased dramatically in the past five years in order to be recruited so you have to stand out among thousands.”

Not only did O’Leary stand out among fellow recruits; she’s also standing out in her first season in college. The midfielder has started eight of the team’s 10 games and she is third on the team in scoring with 14 goals and seven assists. She has 29 shots on goal for a 48.3 shooting percentage.

More importantly, she has played a key role in Coastal’s three victories this season, including the Lady Chanticleers’ 14-13 victory over visiting Detroit Mercy for the first home win in the program’s history. The victory was more than a notch in the win column; it also may have been a turning point for the team.

“The best and most exciting game experience so far is winning our first home game against Detroit Mercy,” O’Leary said. “We have been working very hard since the fall and to finally have the success of winning at home is a feeling I had never experienced before.”

The victory also gave Coastal the confidence to win close games. They won their Big South showdown against Presbyterian College last weekend by a 16-15 score, helping transform the Lady Chants from beginners to contenders.

“As a team we are really excited going into our next games and hoping we can continue with our success,” she said.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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