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ND Softball: Life-long Irish fan O’Donnell leads teammates as senior

Katie Heit | Monday, April 8, 2013

Though her last year as a player will soon come to an end, senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell is not ready to complete a journey that began as a kid and will return to coach the Irish next year.

“When I was seven years old, I stepped foot on campus with my family for the first time,” O’Donnell said. “Ever since then, I’ve wanted to come to the University of Notre Dame. There is so much tradition and prestige associated with the University and I wanted to be part of the Irish mystique.”

O’Donnell worked hard to fulfill that dream. In high school, she posted 1,247 strikeouts with a 79-13-1 career record. She was named an ESPN/Under Armour All-American two years in a row and received first team EA Sports All-American honors.

At Notre Dame, O’Donnell has continued her success. As a freshman, she struck out 71 batters and finished with a 3.71 ERA. As a sophomore, she was named second team all-Big East, finishing her season 10-1. Last season, she was named a Big East Academic All-Star and completed her season with an 11-5 record.

O’Donnell said she improved significantly each year she played with the Irish.

“As a player, I have grown both mentally and physically,” O’Donnell said. “I have become stronger and, with the help of my coaches, been able to fine-tune all of my pitches.”

Aside from the improvements in the technical aspects of her pitching, O’Donnell said Notre Dame gave her a confidence in her game she’s never had before.

“I feel I’m able to confidently face any challenge thrown my way and overcome it successfully,” O’Donnell said.

Now approaching graduation, O’Donnell said she’s not ready to end her time with the team.
“Next year, while finishing up my teaching credentials, I will be joining the current coaches and becoming part of the Notre Dame coaching staff,” O’Donnell said. “After that I will pursue a career as an elementary school teacher in pediatric oncology units. I will be working in a hospital setting assuring that the patients receive the proper schooling to reach their academic potential without falling behind.”

In the meantime, O’Donnell will coach the girls she now calls her teammates, teaching them to lead in her place.

“Having the ability to give insight on and off the field to my teammates is an awesome value that I have learned through my prior teammates,” O’Donnell said. “Leadership is a quality that the coaches and Notre Dame [have] instilled in all of their athletes.”

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu