O’Connor sets big goals for Troy Women’s Soccer

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019

By Jan Murray

Few knew or even know that Troy University has a Women’s Soccer Team, but Head Coach Ged O’Connor and Assistant Nicole Waters intend to change that. The culture O’Connor is creating is one of fitness, growth, maturity, service and basically seeing what’s outside of the team’s own fortunate bubbles, and that, he told Troy Lions Club members August 8, will lead to success on the field and off.

“We’ve got everything to compete to win the (Sunbelt) Conference. No Troy women’s soccer team has ever won a conference. Everyone wants to win…to be the first is always special” and O’Connor and Waters intend to lead their girls to victory.

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O’Connor has had two seasons with the lady trojans and admittedly said the “culture wasn’t great” when he arrived, but “now I firmly believe that it’s about having great people. Surround yourself with great people and you can do great things…That’s one of the special things about Troy.” He kept the recruits from the previous coach, if they chose to stay, and recruited his own players from Alabama, surrounding states and all over the world.

There are currently 33 girls on theTU roster, but all have not yet passed the stringent fitness test that the head coach insists that he and his staff also pass. “We are trying to push them to be better every day. If we can pass, it’s not that hard.” The fitness standards required involves six-and-a-half 300-yard laps at 1:50 minutes per lap; multiple sprints from one end zone to the other (sprinting from one end to the other in 25 seconds are less, then 35 seconds to get back to the other end, cutting the time each round),  and even more.

“It’s all mental. It’s all perspective. Winning is between the ears,” he said, adding “what life lessons” would they be teaching the players if individual exceptions were made for passing the fitness standards? Being three seconds short is “not acceptable,” said O’Connor, “it’s those little bits that make the difference between the winners and the losers and the successes or the failures…Here’s your standard. Don’t meet it, you won’t play.”

O’Connor is serious about the team’s expectations for fitness as “college soccer is all about fitness because there is no recovery time” (games are set only one day apart in the fall), but also about maturing the girls that start in his program in year one. He wants them to  leave at the end of year four knowing “how fortunate they are without feeling entitled.” With that said, he offered the Troy Lions help from his team in terms of volunteering and giving back in order to benefit the community as a whole. Lions International is the largest humanitarian organization in the world and the 32-strong Troy Lions Club is part of more than 1.4 millions Lions worldwide active in community service as it pertains to vision, childhood cancer, diabetes and the environment.

“The girls need to see they are “so fortunate” and that they are “just a small percentage of people that get the chance to do this…We hope to make them just a little bit more developed, mature, experienced and smarter. I feel that our job is to try and develop them so that by the time they graduate they are grown young women,” said O’Connor. “We tell them we are going to make them do things they don’t want to do, ask them to support other people’s goals ahead of their own individual goals and perhaps work with people they don’t even like. That, oftentimes, is called a job. By the time they graduate if they can be ready to step foot into the real world…then we’ve done our job.”