Bonnsboro’s O’Berry to play college football after being banned from the squad
Grace O’Berry’s voice said more than her words ever could.
The more Boonsboro Elder told her story, the more emotional she became. His speech trembled at times.
The tension came as O’Berry spoke about finding acceptance and justification. She was looking for a place to belong. And she worked on her belief in her abilities and proved that she was a really good soccer player.
The story has a happy ending. O’Berry will travel to Mount Aloysius, a Division III school in Cresson, Pa., To play football and, most importantly, study his dual specialization in ultrasound and radiology.
That’s basically all she could have wanted. It was just a more difficult road than she had expected.
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The road to the final goal was a crooked path, beginning when O’Berry was excluded from the Boonsboro women’s football team last fall for an inability to successfully complete a physical condition, possibly caused by the remains persistent hip surgery during his junior year.
“It made me work harder,” O’Berry said of the turn of events. “I knew I was a better player than being cut in my senior year. So I just wanted to prove them wrong.
The proof came in club football, starting with a stint at Hagerstown Soccer Club’s U19 team, coached by Rick Aleshire.
Everything seemed to click from there.
“I had a better time playing for the club,” she said. “It was more competitive and it wasn’t as biased as it was in high school. (Aleshire) treated me like I was this new player. It was good to have a fresh start with him and he brought me to where I am.
The world of college sports recruiting has changed dramatically.
First, film and video technology has replaced the old days when college coaches found potential players through newspaper clippings and word of mouth.
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has gone one step further.
Coaches were unable to go out to see the players due to health protocols and travel restrictions.
Athletes were forced to become proactive by soliciting potential coaches with videos and resumes in an attempt to get noticed.
O’Berry did some of that, but in a different way.
The educational aspect of recruitment weighed more heavily than athletics. She wanted to find her academic form before trying to get into athletics.
“It was difficult to find a place because I have a double specialization in ultrasound and radiology,” she said. “It was difficult to find that balance between school and football.”
Mount Aloysius offered the medical couple O’Berry wanted. Ultrasound is a technique using echoes of ultrasound pulses to mark out objects or areas of different density in the body. Radiology deals with X-rays and other high-energy radiation for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
“It was more about education than play,” she said. “I was researching schools with my major and that’s how I landed on that one.”
But then his attention turned to football. And luckily for O’Berry, sports club athletes get as much attention, if not more, than those who play on varsity high school teams these days.
“I contacted (coach Adam Sprague) and asked him to come see me play my club games,” said O’Berry. “And then I sent him a movie. He said to me that he liked me and wanted to see me play again, and then I met him and he showed me around the college.
It was one reason both sides liked what they saw – Sprague of O’Berry as the player and O’Berry as the facility.
“It was early December and he told me to try to make my decision before New Years,” O’Berry said. “But I gave him the decision right away because of how much I liked school.
“It’s the right fit.”
Accept the challenge
It’s hard to say how much the snub of being cut affected O’Berry’s course in college, but it became a motivator.
It started with his injury.
“I tore my labrum in two places. It’s just that I haven’t had any luck in sports, ”she said. “I twisted it badly and it tore. I just kept playing on it afterwards.
“We didn’t know what was going on until the end of my junior year. We had it checked out and (the medics) said I could play for the rest of the season. I was operated on in December.
O’Berry did all the rehab to get back on the pitch. She was cleared to play on June 1 and resumed playing summer league football.
Boonsboro held soccer trials in August. One of the requirements for being on the team was the ability to run a mile in a set time. O’Berry failed and was cut.
Rules were rules.
“I was fully recovered and just missed the mileage,” she said. “It makes sense. I understand why (I got cut), but it was just a weird moment.
“I was running and training and then we had the trials in August. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to run as fast as I could – or as fast as I can now – but that was where we were at. “
The reality of it all was hard to swallow.
“It really hurts,” said O’Berry, who played for the JV team as a junior. “My dad and I came back, and we saw that I wasn’t just the only senior to be cut, I was the only person to be cut. It’s just that the opportunity was taken away.
“Dad wasn’t really happy with the result, but I told him to take a step back and let it go. It’s like that. He is happy with the result. “
At that point, O’Berry made his decision to prove the world wrong about his abilities.
“It definitely made me work harder because I knew I was a better player than losing my last year,” she said. “I wanted to prove to them that they were wrong.
“It was right after I got kicked out of the team, I think the next day I got a gym membership. I just started running almost every day.
Join the club
O’Berry was in the process of moving from Antietam United to Hagerstown Soccer Club when she caught Aleshire’s attention.
“Rick saw me play (last summer),” she said. “He tells me that my training and how determined I am is going to get me what I want. “
Under Aleshire, O’Berry says she has learned a lot about her abilities and how to improve as a striker.
“He just worked with me physically and helped me with my racing standards,” she said. “He made me a better player because he put me on more defense. At first, it put me out of my comfort zone.
“Now when I face a defender as a forward I can beat them because I know how to face them and get around them.”
The emotions of the past two years remain for O’Berry, but they continue to fade into the past.
“After I started talking to (Sprague) and he said he was interested in me, I thought to myself, this is probably how it should be,” she said. “I’m comfortable with it.”
O’Berry recently traveled to Mount Aloysius to meet his new team.
“All of the incoming freshmen went for Senior Night,” O’Berry said. “We all spent time with the returning players and watched the lacrosse game. We were already in contact with the team even before the season started.
O’Berry is one of “six or seven freshmen” coming to the Mounted Police program and will continue to connect with Washington County from Mount Aloysius. Kendall Ebersole of Williamsport and Jordan Mason of St. Maria Goretti were freshmen on the football team this season.
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“If I had the chance to (play) in high school, it might have helped. … It would have helped, ”she said.
“I like the way it went. It sort of worked the way it did. I’m at peace… now that it’s all over.
It might have been tough, but Grace O’Berry got three things she wanted most in high school: a college to attend, a chance to play football, and proof that she can play.
“Track and field is definitely playing a bigger role now because it will help me stay focused on school and stay in shape until college,” she said.
“I just want to prove that I’m good enough… good enough to play for this team and play for any team in general. As long as I play to the best of my ability that day, it’s good enough for me.
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