Girls Soccer: Callie O’Donnell’s goal for Plainfield North: Help others scorePlainfield North's Ashley Handwork (right) and Callie O'Donnell. Michael R. Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Callie O’Donnell is not your typical high school soccer star. She stands above the fray but would sometimes rather defer than take the spotlight.
“I don’t like to think of myself as better than anybody else,” the Plainfield North senior forward said.
Yet, the evidence and how she plays offers a convincing counterargument. As Dizzy Dean famously said, it’s not bragging if you can do it.
She has the results to justify the acclaim. As a junior, O’Donnell scored 24 goals and dealt out 20 assists as the Tigers enjoyed a breakout year in going 17-3-1. She was named to the Sun-Times All-Area first team, one of just three underclassmen to earn the honor.
She was introduced to the sport as a 7-year-old and quickly distinguished herself.
“Every little kid tries every sport,“ she said. “Soccer just worked for me.“
A four-year starter at Plainfield North, O’Donnell is not physically imposing at 5-4.
The girls’ game differs substantially from the boys’ in that regard. The game is not dominated in the air. The game places a premium on other abilities and intangibles. O’Donnell’s vision and feel for the game separate her from the pack.
“I see the game differently,” she said.
That is reflected in her desire to showcase her passing and playmaking abilities. “Scoring is great, but I love just to help other people score,” O’Donnell said. “I’d much rather be the person who passes the ball, which is kind of funny for a forward.”
O’Donnell, who has signed with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has made subtle though telling adjustments to her game, according to Plainfield North coach Jane Crowe.
“She is pretty quiet and has always led by example, but over the past year she has really become a more vocal leader,” Crowe said. “Her teammates love playing with her and she has learned to make the players around her better.”
She also played basketball and ran distances when she was younger. Soccer is her specialty. Like most top-echelon players she played club team to refine her skills and compete against high-caliber competition.
It is the high school team that drives her. Plainfield North has never won a regional in the program’s brief history. The Tigers lost 1-0 to Naperville Central in last year’s regional final.
The No. 4 Redhawks beat the No. 9 Tigers 2-1 in the first week of the season. “We played well last year, but we didn’t fully understand what we could do with our team,” O’Donnell said. “Our biggest goal is to get past Naperville Central in the regionals. We have our minds set on going to the state finals [at North Central College in Naperville].
“We want to make people know we could go pretty far this year.’’