O’Connell Propels Javelin To Career Highs And Glory
O’Connell Propels Javelin
To Career Highs And Glory
By Elio Velez
Coming off an injury plagued 2000 and rehabilitation in 2001 and early 2002, Virginia Tech senior Dee O’ Connell faced a long haul in returning to the track and field team. Her rehabilitation proved out to be a fruitful enterprise.
O’Connell’s return from neck and back injuries resulted in a great season for the Hokies in 2002. She was named to the NCAA Track and Field All-American Team, broke school records and other personal and team records.
Originally a Rockaway Beach native, Dee started out her career at Virginia Tech by winning in the Atlantic 10 championships in the javelin in 1998 and as a sophomore in 1999. She still holds the distance record in the A-10 after VT moved to the Big East conference. Before the 2000 season, O’Connell suffered a bad injury.
"I broke the 2 lower bones of my back in March 2000", recalls O’Connell. "I had to rehabilitate for the whole year while lifting and training." Even as she was still rehabbing in the fall of 2001, O’Connell still competed and won the Coastal Carolina Invitational and finished in the top 10 in other events.
As Dee regained full health and starting her senior year, Virgina Tech hired Dave Ciamelli from SMU, its third coach in four years. Ciamelli and new javelin coach Greg Jacks gave her the opportunity to shine and she grabbed it to attain her greatest season.
In the 2002 season, she broke five of her own personal records. In the Big East championships, she set a career high of 174’02 feet in the javelin to win the Big East title. O’Connell is ranked in the NCAA top 10 in the javelin. "Compared to last year, she is light years ahead of what she wanted to accomplish", remarked Coach Ciamelli.
O’Connell will graduate this year with a degree in political science but she plans to return to the team as a volunteer coach. Coach Ciamelli says that Virginia Tech has good facilities and good enough weather to train year round. She plans to keep training to compete in the U.S. Track and Field championships on June 21-23 at Stanford and possibly events next year. O’Connell says, "I want to give it a year, train, and to see how I do."
She enjoyed her time playing at VT and she is very confident about her future. "I did it for fun and I enjoyed my teammates", O’Connell said. Coach Ciamelli also has full confidence in Dee O’Connell’s abilities, "We all feel that she is just scratching the surface of her ability."