DePaul women’s soccer program names Michele O’Brien as head coach
CHICAGO – DePaul University announced on Monday that Michele O’Brien has been named the head coach of the women’s soccer program. O’Brien assumes the head role after serving as an associate head coach of the Blue Demons since 2014. She takes over as the fourth head coach in the program’s 25-year history.
“After conducting a national search, I am proud to elevate Coach Michele O’Brien to the head coach role,” said Director of Athletics, DeWayne Peevy. “Michele is a phenomenal athlete, motivator, educator and tactician. She exemplifies everything we want our student-athletes to be with her relentless work-ethic and passion. I’m excited about her vision for our program and how she is ready to DREAM BIG about our future.”
“I would like to thank DeWayne, Jill Hollembeak and the rest of the hiring committee for giving me this opportunity and believing in me,” said O’Brien. “I am really excited about the vision and future of DePaul Athletics. I want to thank Erin Chastain for her support and for being an amazing colleague, mentor and friend for the past 12 years.”
O’Brien worked along former head coach Erin Chastain in all aspects of the program including recruiting, scouting and player development. Even before being named associate head coach, O’Brien contributed on the recruiting trail, helping the Blue Demons land standout Ashleigh Goddard and 2013 All-BIG EAST Third Team defender Rachel Pitman from England.
“I’d also like to thank the rest of the athletic department for their support, and I am looking forward to working with them in my new role,” said O’Brien. “We have a great group of young women with a ton of potential, and I am really excited to continue developing them as we work towards our goal of being a championship program.”
The New York native was named associate head coach in May of 2014 after helping lead the Blue Demons to the BIG EAST Conference tournament in four of her first five seasons at DePaul. She was instrumental in DePaul advancing to its first BIG EAST title game in 2013 along with securing a berth in the NCAA tournament.
In 2014, O’Brien was instrumental in leading the squad to a program-best 16-1-4 overall record that was the fifth-best winning percentage in the country. DePaul set a school record with a 20-game undefeated streak, and by the end of the regular season was one of only two programs (No. 1 UCLA) to remain unbeaten. The Blue Demons attained their highest national ranking when Soccer America ranked them at No. 7.
O’Brien started at DePaul as an assistant coach in 2009 while completing her playing career with the Ireland National Team. As a player, O’Brien helped lead the Ireland side to the 2011 European Championships.
In addition to her national team experience with Ireland, O’Brien played seven seasons in the United Soccer Leagues W-League and played with the United Kingdom for the Arsenal Ladies Football Club. Arsenal, the most successful team in the U.K., competed in world-class events such as the European Cup and FA Cup.
In the USL, she played for the Long Island Rough Riders and with the New Jersey Sky Blue. O’Brien retired from competitive soccer in 2012 after playing internationally for 10 seasons.
O’Brien served as an assistant coach at Columbia University (2005-07) and was an assistant at New York University (2004-05). She played collegiately at Florida International University (1998-2001) and was a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. She also earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors twice and was a two-time All-Sun Belt Tournament selection. O’Brien graduated as FIU’s all-time leader in shots, goals and points.
O’Brien and her husband Blair Banwart, who works for the DePaul Athletics facilities department, have a daughter, Addison, and son, Wyatt.