When Erin O’Leary began her athletic career at Winthrop High School, she couldn’t have predicted that her final accolade would be playing in a lacrosse all-star game.
For Winthrop High didn’t have a girls lacrosse team when O’Leary entered her freshman year, but the talented athlete was introduced to the sport as a junior and became a captain, the leading scorer, and MVP for the school’s first-ever varsity girls team as a senior.
O’Leary showed she was worthy of the honor of playing in the Agganis Women’s Lacrosse All-Star Classic by scoring a goal and creating numerous offensive opportunities.
“I worked hard all season but I didn’t think I would be recognized as an Agganis All-Star but it feels great,” said O’Leary.
The 18-year-old daughter of Dan and Paula O’Leary, Erin was recognized for her superior athletic achievements with the Wallace B. McLean Athletic Award which is presented to the student who has done the most for athletics during her high school career. She was the recipient of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Award in her junior year.
Soccer has been O’Leary’s primary sport since her days in the Winthrop Youth Soccer program.
“I’ve played soccer since I was in first grade,” said O’Leary. “I didn’t pick up lacrosse until my junior year.”
Also a member of the Winthrop girls ice hockey and track teams, O’Leary was one of the few athletes on the North Shore to be selected for two Agganis Classics. Winthrop’s Tracey Martucci, who coached the Agganis South All-Star soccer team, said O’Leary was a four-year starter for the varsity who took the field for more than 80 games.
“Erin actually moved from an offensive player to a defensive player and became our sweeper,” said Martucci. “She was the leading scorer this year as a sweeper.”
A soccer captain and Winthrop team MVP, O’Leary was selected to the Northeastern Conference All-Star team.
“Erin was a great leader for our team,” said Martucci, the program’s second all-time leading goal scorer behind Julie Dowson. “She would always step up for the team and play no matter what. She’s a great student and a three-sport athlete. To be selected as an Agganis lacrosse all-star is really impressive and a great honor for her because it’s the first year for the program.”
Off the playing field, O’Leary was elected three times as vice president of the Class of 2013. She was president of the Student Council as a junior and the Massachusetts Association of Students Councils honored her for her leadership. She was a recipient of the BU Book Award among other academic and athletic awards. She was a coach of the U-10 team in Winthrop Youth Soccer for two years and a peer mentor in Mr. Chris Donnelly’s Life Skills Program at the high school.
“She’s just a great kid who really excelled in all aspects of student life at the high school,” said WHS director of athletics Peter Gobiel who attended the lacrosse all-star game. “Her teammates admired her for her dedication to the teams she was on and it was great to see her career recognized with two nominations for the Agganis Classics.”
“I wouldn’t have made it through high school without Mr. Gobiel,” said O’Leary. “He was always there to assist me with taping and helping me get ready to play.”
O’Leary said she will miss being a student at her hometown high school. “But I’m ready to go because I felt I put my best effort into everything I did and I really wouldn’t change anything. High school was awesome. I wouldn’t have wanted to go to school anywhere else. I had great coaches [Tracey Martucci, Jen Adams, and Butch Martucci] in all of my sports. They taught me a lot, not only about sports but how to be a better person and to put your best effort toward everything you do. ”
O’Leary will be attending Elon University in North Carolina where she’ll study Secondary Education with a focus in Mathematics. She received a scholarship to Elon’s prestigious teaching fellowship program that means she will study abroad in her sophomore year in London or Costa Rica.
O’Leary credited her family for its support, including her older brother, Casey, a WHS golfing standout who went on to play golf for Salem State University. She thanked her parents for inspiring her.
“I wouldn’t be the person that I am without them pushing me – and without the support from my dad with sports, I don’t think I would have gone that far in soccer or lacrosse,” said O’Leary. “He taught me to believe in myself and that I could compete in the big leagues. My mother has always been supportive and always allowed me to try what I wanted to do and never forced anything upon me.”
And as she prepares to leave for college, she took one last look back at her experience in the Winthrop school system.
“Winthrop High School was phenomenal – they were the best four years in life,” said O’Leary.