First-year attacker carrying out family roots in the Midwest

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Bobby O’Grady is a first-year attack on the Marquette men’s lacrosse team who hails from Milton, Massachusetts. O’Grady earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Since he was between six and seven-years-old, first-year attacker Bobby O’Grady was drawn to the game of lacrosse. 

In fact, O’Grady and his older brother Mike have followed in their father’s footsteps. Their father, Perry, played for Boston College.

“He (Perry O’Grady) just threw a bunch of sticks and sports equipment out in front of us. I think the two of us (Bobby and Mike) naturally picked up the lacrosse stick and just started playing,” Bobby said. “Coming from a family with 26 cousins all playing lacrosse, I was surrounded by it. It was hard not to play and not to love it.”

But Mike, a senior captain for the Providence College men’s lacrosse team, said there was never any pressure on the O’Grady siblings to pursue lacrosse. In fact, their sister, Madeline, pursued basketball.

“Our family gave us the freedom to try anything that we wanted to do, whether it was athletically or anything else,” Mike said. “We did plays when we were younger and some singing too. But we always gravitated towards sports.”

Bobby said lacrosse wasn’t always at the center of his life before college, as he also played hockey from the age of six until his senior year of high school.

Marquette men’s lacrosse head coach Andrew Stimmel said Bobby’s hockey background shines through on the field.

“His power and quickness of release come from his hands and his wrist and I really do believe part of that’s been developed through playing hockey,” Stimmel said.

Transitioning to the next level 

Bobby said he has been preparing to play at the collegiate level during his whole youth career. Prior to joining Marquette, he played on the United States National Development U-17 Team and for Mesa Fresh Lacrosse out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Stimmel said Bobby’s transition has been “a smooth one.”

Meanwhile for Bobby, he said playing alongside his teammates was nerve-racking at first.

“Everyone on the team is fast, everyone is much bigger and stronger. It was definitely a big step up for me,” Bobby said. “These guys are studs. They’re so good. They’re definitely tough to play against every day. For the first couple of days, I definitely gripped my stick a little hard, a little nervous for that jump.”

Once the early jitters were removed from his system, Stimmel said Bobby’s  skills and passion for lacrosse were on full display.

“He’s a tremendous competitor. He’s a very hard worker and he’s got a very high level of confidence,” Stimmel said. “When you have those things with the combination of talent and skill, it gives you the ability to come in and make an impact as a true freshman.”

The Golden Eagles kicked off their season with a road win against Bellarmine. Bobby scored a total of four goals, which included the game-winner in triple overtime. Bobby was then declared BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for the week of Feb. 14.

Keeping a straight face on the field

“He is (a) very goofy, happy go lucky, fun-loving guy,” Stimmel said.

But when it’s time to get down to business, Mike said things change for his younger brother.

“That personal light, that smile he always has on is his off the field personality, that shuts up when he plays lacrosse,” Mike said.

In fact, Bobby said he recognizes the intense focus he finds himself in.

“My friends will make fun of me because I am a completely different person on and off the field. I just zone out everything and focus on the game,” Bobby said. “I think sometimes you get a little too focused or too in the zone.”

While Bobby might be “in the zone,” Mike said he sees him having fun.

“It’s really awesome to watch him play because he’s so creative, serious and intense, but the same time you can tell how much he enjoys playing,” Mike said. “It’s really great to watch as a brother. He’s had that same joy, passion and fire within him since he was a little kid.”

Hard work beats everything

It is one thing to have that fire, but it is a whole other to fuel it day in and day out.

“He (Bobby) has a pretty rare combination of talent and mindset. Anytime you have that, special things can happen,” Stimmel said. “Bobby will be the first to tell you he doesn’t care about setting records or any individual accolades. He just wants to win.”

Bobby said it was driven into him from an early age that “you had to work hard for everything.”

“I don’t expect to go out there and anything to be easy, especially at this level,” Bobby said. “If you’re not going to go out there and work hard, there’s no point in going out.”

Mike said Bobby’s strong work ethic is contagious to those around him and stands out.

“I’m a senior now and I’ve seen a lot of people come through the Providence program and Bobby is up there for one of the hardest workers or ever been around,” Mike said. “This offseason, he pushed me as much as I could push myself.”

With Marquette and Providence scheduled to go to head-to-head April 2. at Valley Fields, the O’Grady brothers will be pitted against each other in an official game for the very first time in their lives.

“I always have my game face on around Marquette because it’s such a great rivalry we have. It’s always a big game when we play, but I really am happy and thankful for how the Marquette team has treated my brother this year,” Mike said. “But that’s all out the door when we play in April.”

Bobby ensures the match-up will “be respectable.”

“My goals are centered around whatever is best for the team (Marquette) and if I can help the team, that’s what I want to do,” Bobby said. “(To) beat Providence, that’s (a) personal goal.”

Despite any BIG EAST brotherly dispute, both said the real pressure is on what team their parents will represent.

“I can’t say, but if I had to guess they’ll probably be wearing blue and gold,” Bobby said.

This story was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached at ava.mares@marquette.edu or on Twitter @avamaresMU.