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Illinois native O’Connell was a standout student-athlete at NC State (1998-2001) and has over a decade of coaching experience at the high school and club levels. O’Connell, a former middle school teacher, was the head coach at Apex High School from 2007-2011. During her five years at Apex, her team won the Tri-9 conference title four years in a row, and she was named the Tri-9 Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In the 2010 season she led Apex to its first-ever NCHSAA 4A State Championship and the school’s first national ranking.
O’Connell joined Triangle in 2007. During her first season at Triangle she led 18 Blue to qualify for USAV Junior Nationals (the first-ever "2" team from the Carolina Region to qualify). O’Connell then served as the assistant coach of 18 Black from 2009-2011. She helped 18 Black achieve double qualification in the Open Division for USAV Junior Nationals by winning the Lone Star Classic and finishing second at the Mideast Qualifier. In 2011 18 Black finished in third place at the Big South Qualifier, again qualifying in Open for USAV Junior Nationals.
From 2012-2014 O’Connell was the head coach of 16 Black. In 2012 O’Connell was at the helm when 16 Black finished T9 in the Open Division at AAU Junior Nationals, the highest finish for a 16s team in Triangle’s history at the national tournament. In 2014 O’Connell took her team even further and led 16 Black to the championship match in 16 Open at AAU Junior Nationals, where they finished runners-up. This was Triangle’s first appearance in an Open division national championship match along with Triangle’s highest-placing team at AAU Junior Nationals.
Since 2015 O’Connell has been the head coach of 17 Black. She has led 17 Black to qualify in Open for USAV Junior Nationals in 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2015 17 Black finished T13 at USAV Junior Nationals in 17 Open and was ranked 17th by prepvolleyball.com to conclude the season.
O'Connell lives in Cary with her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, Alexis and Kallie.