Heather O'Reilly is a key player in the US World Cup team to play Japan in the World Cup final.
The Irish American from New Jersey is lower profile than many others on the team but is invaluable for the amount of quiet and unselfish work she does.
Back in New Jersey she is seen as an inspiration.
“The main thing with Heather back in the day, it wasn’t really teaching her so much. It was trying to get her to control her emotions,” said her former travel soccer coach Phil Peterson told Patch.com.
“There were times when it was a close game and she’d go to pieces, and we’d pull her out and score a goal, and we’d show her that we didn’t have to have her do everything. But that kind of intensity is part of being a world class athlete.”
"Every time I see Heather play, I am struck not by her remarkable talents and her competitiveness, but by the way she conducts herself on and off the field. What you see is what you get with Heather - polite, friendly, sincere, committed, not to mention a smile and spirit that light up a room,” said former East Brunswick Soccer Club President Ron Bransdorfer.
“She doesn’t have the flashiness, she doesn’t get the big headlines like an Abby Wambach might, but she’s probably the most steady one out there,” said Peterson. “She’s very consistent, and obviously, a starting midfielder. All positions are key, but that’s kind of a critical one.”
Justine Barbato is a East Brunswick High School soccer coach
“I coach high school soccer here at East Brunswick and there has been a buzz around USA soccer and Heather O'Reilly since the World Cup started,” she said. “Heather is a great role model and inspiration for the high school team and also all young female soccer players. Heather shows that hard work and dedication does pay off and it helps to give the young girls that extra push to go the extra mile to strive to be their best. Heather has always been the most humble player I have played with and I could not think of a better person and player who is deserving of the success that she is having during the World Cup.”
Peterson agreed with that .
“One thing about her is she’s never let success go to her head. She’s such a down to earth girl. Millions of kids have been touched by her with training and being in contact with her,” he said.
“Whatever Heather accomplishes is no surprise to me,” said longtime EBHS Athletic Director Frank Noppenberger. “Be it at the Olympics, the NCAAs or the World Cup, she always rises to the occasion.
“It’s hard to put into words what she has done to promote women’s soccer by just being herself in the USA, New Jersey and especially East Brunswick. If anyone needs a role model, look no further than Heather. Not only is she a great athlete, but a wonderful person who has always been super to our athletic department.”