Kellee O'Shaughnessy is used to teams marking her on the soccer field. Since her freshman year at Bishop Dwenger she's been a focus for opposing teams. It's a good thing she had an entire childhood growing up against a stronger and bigger opponent to get used to overcoming the challenge.
O'Shaughnessy's brother Jonathan, five years her elder, provided her with plenty of opportunities to learn how to play against someone who could push her around. It forced her to deal with the adversity,improve and thrive against it.
“I always got bullied, beat up, but it happens with family,” she said. “Growing up with him was pushing matches, fighting, doing what ever we could. … So I got used to getting pushed around a lot, but now that I've grown it's evened out and plays to my advantage because I'm much more used to the physical presence.”
Now as a junior for the Saints, O'Shaughnessy has used these early sibling lessons to become one of the best soccer players in the state. This season she scored 17 goals along with 10 assists and earned first-team All-State, the only local player to do so.
These accomplishments are the reason she is being named the News-Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“She's just a very skilled player and has always been the focal point as far as our team for scoring,” Bishop Dwenger head coach Jeff Killion said. “We try to play possession soccer and so usually we have the ball a lot and so even if she has someone watching her, she has some time to be able to break free because we get her the ball quite a bit.”
Once she gets the ball, O'Shaughnessy has more than enough talent to know what to do. Killion notes her vision as a great strength and her physical ability, which likely comes from those early games with her brother.
“She's usually pretty strong on the ball and not going to be knocked off the ball at the high school level,” Killion said. “She's able to keep the ball and pretty much handle any physical part of the game.”
It shouldn't be a surprise to see she has the strength to be a dominant player. O'Shaughnessy got into the game after watching her brother play and it turned into a way for her to show some of her aggressive nature, which kept her coming back to the field and pushing to play at more elite levels.
“I just liked the competitiveness and it was a chance for me to go out and get my energy out but still express myself from just playing and working with my team,” O'Shaughnessy said. “It was a chance to express myself through my play and creativeness and style.”
While this year may have ended in disappointment for her team with an overtime sectional loss to Carroll, O'Shaughnessy is already looking toward her last high school season. The loss has provided motivation for her and her teammates to push in the offseason to help the Saints reach the state championship for the first time since they won it in 2005 and 2006.
It's a hope and mindset to succeed and win that goes back to those first few sibling games with Jonathan.
“I think that (the sibling rivalry) probably, definitely is part of being aggressive and wanting to do better than the person you're against and wanting to come out on top rather than always being second place,” O'Shaughnessy said.
Kellee O'Shaughnessy, Bishop Dwenger (midfield)
Natalie Lebamoff, Bishop Dwenger (midfield)
Alexis Royal, Bishop Dwenger (forward)
Addie Reimbold, Bishop Luers (midfield)
Natalie Disher, Canterbury (midfield)
Amber Hoot, Carroll (forward)
Matea Knispel, Carroll (midfield)
Lorah Pund, Carroll (goalie)
Taya Poynter, DeKalb (forward)
Kacey Wells, DeKalb (forward)
Morgan Cole, Homestead (defender)
Hannah Miller, Homestead (defender)
Erika Ruhl, Leo (defender)
Dorian Fanning, Northrop (defender)