Featuring over 20 years of competition on the slab, Nancy O'Halloran brought a wealth of experience to Team USA Blue at the 2018 ISBHF Masters in Bermuda. Having also donned the USA jersey at the inaugural Masters in 2014, contested in Tampa, Florida, the native of Stoneham, Massachusetts has enjoyed multiple brushes with history. Part of many notable moments in American ball hockey, simultaneously contributing to its growing legend, her continued relevance proves that there is no longer a twilight for a competitor’s career.
Among such moments, O'Halloran, a former Division I athlete who competed in field hockey and lacrosse for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was joined by the likes of Kristen Patenaude and Alessandra Ciambra (now Glista) on the US roster that captured the World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships back in 2007. Marking the first-ever American team to capture the title, all three would call each other teammates on Team USA Blue in 2018, enjoying another podium finish, while adding to their glowing legacies.
The opportunity to play alongside a pair of fellow luminaries in US ball hockey such as Patenaude and Glista throughout numerous times has enriched the sporting experience for O'Halloran. Finding a duo of kindred spirits whose shared love of the game has culminated with an incredible sense of national pride, their run as teammates, which has stretched out over a decade, is destined to serve as an integral part of the growing lore of the American Street Hockey Institute (ASHI).
“I have been fortunate to play with both KP and San for years, both locally and on other National teams. That outdoor championship was special because we were the first American team to win in Canada.”
Also in 2007, O'Halloran wore the USA jersey at the ISBHF World Championships, contested in Germany. Marking the first time that an American team competed in the ISBHF Worlds, it emphasized the sense of history that stands as the brightest legacy of her remarkable athletic narrative. Having also captured North American DekHockey championships in 1998 and 2008, O'Halloran returned to Team USA for the 2011 edition of the ISBHF World Championships in Slovakia.
Regardless of the fact that those early appearances at the ISBHF Worlds did not result in podium finishes, such experiences were crucial towards laying a foundation for the tremendous teams that followed. Undeniably, the chance to compete on an international scale, while making new acquaintances and strengthening existing friendships, built on the bond of representing the red, white and blue remains the legacy of such a fascinating time,
“The Germany team was a special honor as it was the first women’s team we sent to play in a World Championship. Both Worlds meant a lot to me, to represent your country is always a special honor and the experience is something I will never forget.
Playing other countries, touring other countries and all of the support on both the men’s and women’s teams is very bonding. It feels good to be able to cheer for the men and they reciprocate, it is a feeling that is difficult to express, but you definitely feel a connection.”
With a sparkling hockey resume supplemented by momentous competition at the first three ISBHF Masters events (2014, 2016, 2018), the honor of wearing the Stars and Stripes has never been taken for granted by O'Halloran. Employing such an appreciation, along with a harmonious combination of maturity and contentment, it is the type of positive example that embodies why so many distinguished competitors have dedicated themselves to the game.
While Team USA certainly had its share of accomplished participants on Masters teams present and past, each bringing a remarkable proficiency, O'Halloran’s wealth of experience made her a crucial asset to each one of those teams. The 2016 edition of the Masters saw O'Halloran named an assistant captain, part of a quartet of celebrated leaders including team captain Kristen Patneaude, and fellow asssitants Yvonne Percy and Amy Miller.
Bestowed the prestige of the assistant captaincy once again in 2018, such presence made it natural that the honored O'Halloran would take on an important leadership role for said teams. Taking into account the number of American players that were making their Masters debut in 2018, such as Liz Conner, Melanie Kramer, Jess Komarek and Courtney Semplice, the approach of O’Halloran’s certainly serves as a template for what such new arrivals can aspire to,
“Our first Masters team was 2014 followed by 2016 and then 2018, I was lucky to be a part of all three teams. I do see myself as a leader since I have been around the sport for an extended period of time and have been fortunate to represent our country at both the World and Masters level.”
Statistically, O'Halloran compiled a very respectable four points in six games played. Logging four assists, she was among the team leaders in this statistical category. Recording a pair of assists in a 7-0 win versus a second team of Canadian players, representing New Tecumseth, Ontario (a region which has produced provincial and national championships), O'Halloran’s helpers came on goals by Monica Martin and Pam Bilger.
A highly emotional contest pitting USA Blue versus USA Red saw O'Halloran record an assist on the final goal of the game, as Blue prevailed in a 4-1 tally. Her final point came in a 7-0 blanking of Slovakia, gaining the assist on Sarah Wilson’s goal, which provided USA Blue with a 2-0 advantage, propelling them into the gold medal game.
Belonging to a rare sorority of competitors that have gained podium finishes in the first three editions of the ISBHF Masters, O'Halloran aspires for the celebrated summit of gold. With the US having gained three silver medals in Masters competition, along with Team USA Red capturing the bronze at the 2018 Masters, it represents a very glorious chapter for the ASHI, as O'Halloran remains optimistic that an elusive gold shall become a reality.
Notwithstanding the visceral outcome of the gold medal game in 2018, O'Halloran remained proud of an unprecedented third consecutive podium finish for the program. Equally proud of the effort throughout the tournament, as her US counterparts contributed to a squad that was among the strongest on-hand at the event.
“Yes, I have been proud of the team and how hard we played. We have come up short with a silver in all three Masters so far. I see a Gold in the future for the program at both the World and Masters level. The women in the program are very dedicated and it has been awesome to see how it has grown from the very first Worlds team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Facebook