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U.S. Soccer Star Heather O’Reilly to Visit Santa Barbara Soccer Club

Heather O’Reilly, who played 15 years with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, will be spending time with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club on Friday. Click to view larger
Heather O’Reilly, who played 15 years with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, will be spending time with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club on Friday.

Team USA World Cup champion Heather O’Reilly is spending time with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club’s girls teams on Friday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.

O’Reilly’s visiting to Santa Barbara was made possible through an exchange of letters with Santa Barbara Soccer Club player Paige Ingram.

Ingram wrote to O’Reilly and the U.S. Women’s National Team star replied to her correspondence.

“The two have continued to be pen pals every since,” said Paige’s mother, Rebecca Ingram. “We are thrilled to have Paige meet Heather and be able to share her experience with all the other players of the Santa Barbara Soccer Club.”

O’Reilly wore the No. 9 jersey for the national team, a symbol of her leadership and offensive prowess on the squad.

O’Reilly, who retired from international play in September, played 15 years with the national team and has 230 caps, placing seventh all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history. She scored 46 goals and dished out 54 assists.

She is one of the most successful players in U.S. history, winning a World Cup (she played in three World Cups) and three Olympic gold medals.

“Heather has been a vitally important part of our program for many years and has continued to set a standard for professionalism and work ethic,” said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis at the time of O’Reilly’s retirement from the national team. “She’s been right in the thick of things for most of our big moments over the past 15 years and has always been the ultimate team player and a world-class person. She should be incredibly proud of the indelible impact she’s made on this team and on women’s soccer.”

Billy Gallagher, executive director of the SBSC, is excited for the girls to meet and train with an inspiring player like O’Reilly.

“Her story will truly inspire our female athletes and prospective players to strive for similar accolades and accomplishments,” he said.  “Santa Barbara Soccer Club has a storied tradition of developing and assisting our female players into strong collegiate and youth national team prospects. This past year, the club was instrumental in assisting placement of more than 14 female players into top Division I, II, III and NAIA schools throughout the country.  The SBSC encourages all of its players to be the best they can be. Heather O’Reilly has obviously worked extremely hard to reach the top of her game and we are thrilled with the opportunity to have her inspire the next generation of female athletes here in town.”

Long known as one of Team USA’s fiercest competitors, O’Reilly became a fan favorite over the years for her competitive nature on the field and outgoing personality off of it.

She is one of just four three-time women’s soccer Olympic gold medalists and a 2015 Women’s World Cup champion. She was also a leader on the U.S. team that won the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Cup, making her one of the few players in history to win an Olympics, a senior World Cup and a youth World Cup.

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