Bourne senior Caitlin O’Connor is one of the few members of the Canalmen volleyball team with a championship pedigree. As a central cog during the team’s run to back-to-back Division 3 state finals during her sophomore and junior seasons, O’Connor returns for her final season at Bourne looking to instill that winning attitude into a new group of players.
And more than just performing on the court and doing what’s asked of her—she’s traditionally an outside hitter, but has been playing middle hitter for head coach Andy Mather—a winning attitude is also about how you carry yourself on the court. As a two-time winner of the South Coast Conference Sportsmanship Award in 2017 and 2018, perhaps no other player is better equipped to lead a young Canalmen team in 2019.
Her love of volleyball began in town camps and open gyms and blossomed when she joined up with various club teams like Pilgrim, Beantown and Southern Alliance. Her dedication through it all was evident.
“I played during the offseason, attending camps to keep my skills sharp and to evolve as a player,” she said.
Outside of volleyball, O’Connor also serves as a midfielder for the girls’ lacrosse team and throws shot put for the winter track team. This past spring as a junior captain, she earned a conference honorable mention in lacrosse for head coach Mike Massmann.
In the classroom, she’s a two-year member of the National Honor Society and has received the scholar-athlete award every season of her high school career, she said. Additionally her family and herself volunteer with the Happy Hope Factory and it has become the organization of choice for the volleyball program during the team’s annual charity night.
When she’s not hammering down spikes or serving up aces, O’Connor can be found working at the Chart Room during the summer months. For the last four summers she’s worked as a busser and on the salad prep station.
What do you love about volleyball? What drew you to it and what made you stick with it?
I love how fast-paced and intense volleyball is; you never know which team is going to win until the very end. I like how unpredictable it really can be. Competition is always intense and it is as much a psychological game as it is athletic. You have to let things roll off and keep pushing through to achieve victory, which I feel is a lot like many life situations. I was drawn to the excitement of the game; all the plays are quick and unpredictable. I’ve stuck with the sport because of how much I enjoy not only seeing myself improve but also watching others get better. Volleyball is a true team sport that requires every player to be successful to win.
What is your favorite pregame warmup music?
“Higher Love’ by Kygo and Whitney Houston is totally the team song this year and continues to hype us all up before games. “Heart of Champion” by Nelly and “Congratulations” by Post Malone also continue to be the other go-to songs since last year.
If you could be one fictional character, who would you be?
If I could be one fictional character, I think I would want to be Crush from “Finding Nemo,” because he just goes with the flow and has fun.
Who is on your Mount Rushmore of role models? My Mount Rushmore of role models consists of my mother and father. They have helped me become the person I am today and influenced me to be the best that I can possibly be in everything I do.
Do you have any plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan on attending college, although I have not fully made any decisions on where I see myself going. I do plan on majoring in biology as a base for many possible career paths that have sparked my interest.
What is your favorite school subject?
Biology is my favorite school subject because I really enjoy discovering why things work and the science behind how certain aspects of life occur. I have had a lot of success in the class and it continues to interest me.
What is your greatest high school moment, either athletically or academically?
Winning the state championship in 2018 was absolutely incredible, and I consider that to be one of the greatest high school moments I was lucky enough to be a major part of. The feelings and emotions the whole team was going through were indescribable, and it is something I will never forget that was accomplished by a team that I will always remember.
Which three people would you invite to a dinner party? What would you serve?
I would invite my grandparents and my mom to share a Hungarian meal together. This dinner is one thing I really missed out on by not having my grandparents here with us during my young adult life. I’d get to hear all sorts of stories I couldn’t understand before and enjoy quality time with family that I’ve missed out on.
Which professional athlete do you most relate to?
The athlete I would relate most to would be US Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. I have been a skier almost my whole life and I can really relate to how resilient she is on the slopes. Despite some major injuries and the challenges that come with rehabilitation, Vonn bounced back to earn Olympic medals and break records. Lindsey Vonn’s fearlessness and resilience are something I aspire to resemble.
You’re stranded on a deserted island and have only a backpack of your most prized possessions. What is in your backpack?
I would pack lemon seltzer waters, because if you know me, this is all I drink—no need for water. I’d pack my phone and headphones to keep me entertained, sunscreen to protect my easily burnt skin, and pictures of me with some of the most important people in my life to accompany me on a deserted island.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
I can never thank my parents, Molly and Chris O’Connor, enough for all the endless love and support they give me as I continue to learn and become who I am. They help me always try to be the best I can and I appreciate them so much for that. Thank you to The Motley Crew, or what my entire extended family refers to themselves as. You are such an amazing group of people, whom I am lucky enough to receive constant love and support from. Also thank you to the incredible people who know me inside and out: you motivate me and make each day a little better.