Mary Jo has already achieved team and individual honors. The powerful #8 was elected as team captain during her senior year and led SJA to the school’s first ever Ohio State Championship title. To top off the championship season, Mary Jo’s teammates and coaches selected her as the team’s Most Valuable Forward. All this followed a stellar rookie season in which she was selected as the team’s Rookie of the Year. She was also named the Best Forward in the State of Ohio. In both her years of play, she was selected as captain of the Ohio Elite U19 team. Not a bad start to a promising rugby career.
Mary Jo’s high school coach, Jaime Cleary, had only high praise for her former captain. “Throughout her development on the SJA rugby team, Mary Jo quickly established herself not only as a great athlete, but as an invaluable asset in keeping the morale and motivation of the team strong and sustainable. She encourages her teammates and maintains a needed calm on the field with her approachable, even communication style and willingness to help wherever needed.
“Despite her obvious athletic gifts, Mary Jo’s modesty and strong ‘whole is greater that the parts’ team focused attitude, helped elevate SJA to their current status as the best team in Ohio.”
Beyond the rugby pitch, Mary Jo was an exceptional student. She graduated with a 3.98 GPA, having made the Honor Roll every year of high school. She was Academic Athlete recipient all four years at SJA for maintaining a 3.6 GPA while participating in sports. No matter the class, she often received the highest grades out of her entire 2010 class and she was honored for finishing all four years of high school with perfect attendance. In addition, Mary Jo represented and promoted SJA in a variety of activities; she was a PAWS mentor, working with incoming freshman at SJA; she was a member of the SJA Youth Group; and an officer in the school’s Irish Club.
Outside of school, Mary Jo gave back to the community. She was a mentor to younger girls at numerous basketball camps; she served meals to the homeless at several area soup kitchens; she helped put together Christmas packages for US troops in Iraq; and participated in food and clothing drives at school. It’s obvious that Mary Jo enjoys helping others. “The thrill and happiness I see when helping someone else cannot be priced.”
It hasn’t taken long for Mary Jo to make an impression on her college coach as Ohio State University head coach, Phil Payne, talks about one of his newest players. “Mary Jo is everything and more than what I was hoping from her. She is a leader amongst the team, she is at every practice and puts in the extra work to be better every day and goes 100% every minute she plays. Many teammates are following her drive and they too are developing beyond my expectations. This young team is coming together faster than I ever dreamed and much of it is attributable to Mary Jo’s personality and her drive to learn this sport we love.”
Mary Jo hasn’t quite pinpointed where her career path will take her but those interests include sports medicine, teaching and law.
Congratulations Mary Jo on being named a 2010 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipient.