Feb. 26, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Whether on the field, in the classroom or in the community, Stephen O'Hara tends to excel at whatever has his attention at that moment. That successful drive is a reason why the Fighting Irish defenseman and team co-captain has been named one of 20 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award in the men's lacrosse division.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
"I am honored to be nominated for this award and to represent what our program believes in," says O'Hara. "The foundation of our program is based on the importance of three pillars - community, character, and culture. I believe this award embodies those three very well and I strive to be successful not only on the field, but, more importantly, in those three aspects."
O'Hara (West Chester, Pa./St. Joe's Prep) has been an anchor in Notre Dame's stingy close defense unit over the past three seasons. He has started 34 consecutive games and has helped the Fighting Irish post a 25-9 record in those contests. O'Hara garnered second team all-BIG EAST honors last season and was tapped as a first team preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse heading into the 2014 campaign. In January, the Ohio Machine selected O'Hara in the sixth round (41st overall selection) of the Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft.
During his first season as a starter in 2012, O'Hara helped the Fighting Irish rank first nationally in scoring defense (6.31) and man-down defense (.892) en route to capturing the BIG EAST regular-season title and advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame had the country's 10th-best goals-against average last season (8.31) against one of the top schedules in the land. The Irish finished the 2013 regular season with the top RPI in the nation and earned the No. 2 seed for the NCAA Championship before advancing to the quarterfinals of that tournament.
The defenseman's success isn't limited to the lacrosse field. He boasts a 3.436 cumulative GPA as a finance major in Notre Dame's nationally-ranked Mendoza College of Business. O'Hara, who is minoring in Chinese, was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three seasons.
Since 2011, O'Hara has been a member of Notre Dame's Rosenthal Leadership Academy, which develops, challenges and supports student-athletes and coaches in their continual quest to become world-class leaders in athletics, academics and life. He has taken part in numerous community service projects in the South Bend/Notre Dame community, including being a mentor for students at Dickinson Middle School and at the Perley Primary Fine Arts Academy.
O'Hara has been involved in the Playing for Peace initiative at Notre Dame to help promote awareness for lasting peace in Sudan. He has participated in community service work, athletic events and peace rallies to help with the Playing for Peace cause. The Playing for Peace initiative seeks to use the platform of sport to transcend boundaries and bring people together in the pursuit of peace, justice and human understanding. O'Hara and the Irish men's lacrosse program have also been instrumental in bringing the initiative to the local level by doing community service work in South Bend and Chicago.
The Senior CLASS Award candidate list will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Lacrosse Championships in Baltimore May 24-26.
O'Hara and the No. 10 Fighting Irish (1-1) will open their inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Saturday at No. 2 North Carolina (3-0). Face-off is slated for noon (ET) at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The game can be seen live on ESPN3.
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