Mike O’Donnell Keeps in Touch with McGill Redmen

Posted on February 2nd, 2013 in Canada, Coaching, My Story | No Comments »

The other night I received an email from one of the Seniors on the team asking if I could make it up for the team banquet. I really wanted to go to the banquet so I could see everyone again and because I wanted to congratulate them in person on such an amazing season. However, the banquet was on a Thursday night and I had a major work meeting during the day on Thursday that there was no way I could miss.

I figured that if I couldn’t be there in person, I would be there in spirit. So I shot this quick video and put it on YouTube so coach Murdoch and coach Steinwald could show it to the team:

 

 

This is the email that coach Murdoch sent out to everyone on Thursday before the banquet. Tim is a stand up guy and I appreciate his kind words. This email is definitely a keeper:

 

Redmen:

 

Unfortunately, Mike O’Donnell is unable to attend our team’s annual banquet tomorrow night at the MAA Club.   Nonetheless, Mike took it upon himself to create a video to share with the team: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojc_X7mU63s&feature=youtu.be  

 

Coach O’Donnell was a big reason for our collective success in winning a national championship in 2012, and he now joins a colorful caste of ‘Redmen lacrosse alumni assistant coaches” alongside Brendan Simeson (McGill Redmen) 2003-2011, John Threshie (UNC Tarheels) 2004-2006, Trevor Tierney (Princeton Tigers) 2006, and Sachin Anand (McGill Redmen), our team’s founder and original player-coach from 2001-2005.

 

On behalf of our entire team, I wish to thank Coach O’Donnell for his unwavering support as an assistant coach from late August through September. He helped Coach O and me to assess talent, to organize and to run early-morning practices, to determine the depth chart, and to strategize on game days… as well as at the Bagattaway Cup.

 

Mike’s fresh perspective, high level of energy and an unwavering passion for the game made him a delight to have on our coaching staff.   The fact that Mike decided to drive solo round-trip 20 hours from Philly toPeterboroughfor the Final 4 says it all.    Thanks, MIKE!

 

GO, REDMEN! 

 

Also, at the banquet, everyone measured their ring sizes so we could get the championship ring orders in. I can’t wait to get my ring in a few weeks when they ship out. Mine is going to have the words “Coach O’Donnell” engraved on the inside of the ring. The team/school picked up the entire cost for all of the rings too (base version), which is really cool because these things are probably about $800 a piece.

I never got a high school ring or a college ring, so I decided to go with the upgrade and get the real ruby as seen in the picture below:

The story of our championship season will be something I will be telling for a long time. Might as well remember it in Style!

 

 

 

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    Enshrined in History by Michael O’Donnell

    Posted on December 20th, 2012 in Coaching, My Story, Speaking, Toastmasters | No Comments »

    This was my 3rd Toastmasters speech overall and my first speech at the Doylestown Toastmasters club. I think I did very well with this speech, but my delivery was a slight step back from my 2nd speech which, was Winning the Battle for Attention. This is because I forgot my words for about 10 seconds towards the end of the speech. Normally I am a fanatic about memorizing my entire speech and this time I was not as well prepared. Luckily for me, I did eventually remember the words and I didn’t stutter or use crutch words during the silence. One of my evaluators actually said they loved the long silence because they were on the edge of their seat and the suspense was killing them. I guess it’s all in how you look at the situation. My other main critique was that I stood in the middle of the U and a bunch of people saw my back the entire time. This is something I have done with every speech so far and I really need to work on it. I think I just get so caught up in my speech that I like to move around and I always forget about the people in the back. This is something I am making a pledge to myself to correct for my 4th speech.

    Enshrined in History by Michael O’Donnell

     

    Can I get a show of hands, how many people played competitive sports at one point in their life? So we have a pretty good amount of athletes in the room.  And one of the things that all of us athletes have in common is that we are competitive people. It’s that competitiveness that drives us to keep getting better and better so we can reach our ultimate goal, which for many is to win a championship. Now please raise your hands in the air again if you have won a championship? Obviously, when you look around, there are a lot less hands in the air. That’s because championships are elusive, they are reserved for the very elite few.

    Now I’ve been playing sports year round for my entire life and I only came close to winning a major championship once. My senior year of college we took 3rd place in the country for club lacrosse. And as great of an achievement as that was, we still couldn’t call ourselves champions. After graduation, I figured that would be my last chance to ever win a championship, that is until I set off for a 9 hour car ride earlier this month to Peterborough, Ontario for the Canadian national lacrosse playoffs.

    You see, while I was working in Montreal this summer, I also had the opportunity to become the assistant coach of the McGill University varsity lacrosse team.  As a young guy with very little coaching experience, you could argue that the stars literally aligned for me to get this kind of an opportunity. You could also argue that I was in over my head seeing how I was filling the assistant coaching position that was previously held by one of the all time leading scorers in Cornell history, Sean Steinwald. With just me, the head coach, and the captains to manage the team, we all had a lot of responsibility on our hands.

    I remember showing up to the first week of tryouts and thinking, what did I get myself into? Most of these guys were better lacrosse players than I was and on top of that, I was only a few years older than them. How would I ever get them to listen to me?  For the first couple of weeks, I felt like I struggled to find my groove, but I continued to press on and eventually I gained their respect.

    With each game we won we became closer and closer as a team and by mid season we were tied for 1st place in the Eastern Conference.  As the team was solidifying their playoff run, my personal life took a slightly different path and I needed to move back to the United States. I remember breaking the news to the team during one of our frosty 6am practices. With just 5 games left in the season, I was sad to say goodbye to the team, but I promised them that if they made the playoffs I would be back to help coach them to victory.

    In my absence, Steinwald was able to return to the team full time and help them go 4-1 in the final 5 games of the season to clinch 1st place in the Eastern Conference. We were headed to the playoffs, but even though we were the top seed in our conference, the road to the championship was not going to be easy.

    In the semi finals we drew Guelph University from the Western conference. The 3 of us coaches stayed up late the night before planning out our strategy for the game. Our defense would have their hands full as Guelph had the highest scoring offense in the country. On game day we found ourselves up by 1 at half and everything was going as planned. But we came out sluggish in the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th and with less than 2 minutes to go we found ourselves down by 2 goals with Guelph killing the clock. The sidelines were quite as we watched the seconds tick away. And then all of the sudden, our defensive mid fielder Ozzie Long picked off a pass, ran down the field and passed to Alex Rohrbach who put the ball in the net. With no time to spare, we won the faceoff and scored again with only a minute left on the clock. You could feel the energy rising as everyone thinking comeback, comeback. And that’s exactly what happened, we won the final faceoff and came down to score the game winning goal with only 4 seconds left on the clock. This was one of the craziest comebacks I have ever seen in my life, but we couldn’t celebrate for long because we had to start preparing for the championship game the next day.

    As luck would have it, we matched up against Western University who had the #1 defense in the country. The exact opposite type of opponent than the one we just played. Another night of scouting and strategizing and by the fourth quarter we found ourselves in the exact same situation as the day before. It was 6-4 with under 1 minute left to play, but this time we were winning and there was no way this defensive team was going to be able to muster the offense to come back. That is until someone screamed from our bench and we got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With the man advantage Western somehow managed to score 2 goals in the final 25 seconds to send it to overtime.

    With the game on the line we battled it out with Western until we got the ball with 30 seconds left in the second overtime. With time running out, our star midfielder Jishan Sharples drove from behind the net, drew the double team, rolled and scored the championship winning goal. As soon as the clock hit zero, everyone rushed onto the field and we hoisted the Baggataway Cup into the air. We were now part of the very elite few that can call themselves national champions.

    As I look back on this amazing season, I can’t help but thank head coach Tim Murdoch for giving me my chance to coach and for being the steadfast leader that the team needed, Sean Steinwald for being the offensive mastermind that led us to victory, all of the trainers that kept our team healthy, and of course all of the players who poured their heart and soul into this team and never gave up when the game was on the line. They will remember this season for the rest of their lives and they will go down in history as the 2012 Canadian national lacrosse champions.

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