Q&A with Freshman Student-Athlete Patrick O’Day
A little about Patrick O’Day
Men’s soccer freshman Patrick O’Day was a high school soccer standout in Plano, Texas -- a city located in the state’s Dallas-Fort Worth area. A second-team All-Texas selection as a senior at Plano High, O’Day led his team to the Class 5A Playoffs and was known as one of the state’s top goal scorers. Now just eight matches into his collegiate career at Case Western Reserve University, it has taken O’Day little time to develop a similar reputation around the NCAA Great Lakes Region.
Through just eight matches, O’Day has eight goals and trails only All-American senior forward Vinny Bell for the team lead. O’Day scored the game-winner in his collegiate debut on September 1 and found the back of the net at least once in each of the team’s first six games. With his senior teammate (Bell) currently zeroing in on the school’s all-time goals record, it is not out of the realm to think that O’Day will someday have his name etched in the Spartan record books.
But, when asked about that possibility, the Texas-native quickly answered that records were the last thing on his mind.
"I’m not thinking about that at all,” said O’Day. “I just want to win games and fit in with my teammates.”
One thing that is definitely on the freshman’s mind is his coursework as a nursing major at CWRU. “The nursing field has appealed to me for a very long time,” noted O’Day. “My plan is to pursue an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or ER (Emergency Room) path because they each provide more excitement and will both lead to graduate school.”
O’Day knows that fulfilling his dream of working in the nursing field will require the same work ethic that earned him a starting spot as a freshman on the regionally-ranked Spartan soccer team – a work ethic he partially attributes to his older brother – a member of the United States Marine Corps.
While his first several weeks at CWRU have been a whirlwind, O’Day has certainly enjoyed the ride thus far.
He is grateful that the Spartan coaching staff has given him the opportunity to shine and he is grateful for the relationship he has formed with his teammates.
“The guys have been great,” said O’Day. “They don’t care that I’m a freshman or that I’m starting and scoring goals. They have really helped me develop as a player.”
In fact, the only complaint he has had about his teammates (kiddingly), is that they don’t share the same enthusiasm for country music.
In this edition of the Spartan Spotlight, Patrick takes some time off from the field, his classes, and searching feverishly online for concert tickets for country music star Jason Aldean to discuss how he ended up in Cleveland all the way from Texas and his experience thus far at CWRU.
Being from the Dallas, Texas area, how did you end up at Case Western Reserve?
“Well I played club soccer, and we competed in a tournament in Cincinnati. We played an important game and I scored a pretty nice goal. A few days later I got home and was eating dinner with my family when I got a call from Coach Palmer (Dan Palmer). After our initial talk, he kept in contact and I looked into the school more and found that I really liked the nursing program. So, the talks began to heat up. Earlier in my recruitment, I was talking mainly to Syracuse and Navy, but by then I had narrowed it down to Case and Emory, mainly because both coaches had been extremely active in pursuing me and both schools had a fantastic academic reputation. Academics always came first -- soccer was just a bonus to me. Anyway I ended up really liking Coach Palmer so I came to Case and things have really worked out from there.”
Did David Thompson (a sophomore basketball player from Plano) being from your high school and making a successful transition to Case influence your decision at all?
After showing Patrick a picture he recognized the face, but defended himself.
“There were 1,400 people in my high school class -- not my whole high school, just in my grade, and I don’t remember faces all that well so don’t blame me. The biggest factors in me coming here were a quality nursing program and an opportunity to play soccer at a competitive level for a coach I really liked.”
How and when did you decide that the nursing field was one that you wanted to pursue?
“I come from a big medical family – my uncle is a doctor, my grandpa is a dentist, my aunt is a nurse, and my mom is a medical transcriptionist – so it seemed like a natural fit. Plus I didn’t really want to go to medical school because it would take too long. I don’t want to be in school for eight years. And obviously, I’m interested in the subject and I think being in a trauma part of a hospital or the ER would be exciting.”
You’re obviously an extremely gifted athlete; did you play any other sports in high school?
“No, in all honesty, I didn’t. I focused on soccer and only played soccer.”
So who’s your favorite soccer team/club?
“Well this probably won’t go over too well but I don’t really have one. I kind of think soccer is boring to watch so I don’t flip it on too often. I’m really only a fan every four years during the World Cup. I walk into the locker room and a bunch of the guys are talking about some Premier League match last night and they’d say ‘oh did you see that game? The last goal by Barcelona was amazing!’ I just kind of stay out of those conversations because I never watch the game – it moves really slow on TV.”
How have you balanced academics and athletics at one of the nation’s top institutions a challenge?
“I’m just really focused on school and soccer and trying to make the best out of both. Classes have been difficult, but I think I’m progressing just fine, and soccer helps me escape from academics, so it’s a nice balance.”
Note: “Spartan Spotlight” is a bi-weekly to monthly series that highlights a Case Western Reserve University student-athlete and his/her exploits on and off the playing field. The series is meant to provide an inside look at the unique backgrounds of Spartan student-athletes and show what it takes to succeed athletically and academically at one of the nation’s premier research institutions.