Flagler Palm Coast soccer player Savannah O’Grady created a team tradition when she was a freshman.
Senior Ashley Buglione scored four goals in a game that season. So O’Grady made her a gift.
“I was like, a hat trick is three goals, but what do you get for four goals?” O’Grady wondered. “So me and my dad (Embry-Riddle assistant basketball coach Patrick O’Grady) went to Lowe's and we got a mailbox number four that we spray painted gold with a gold-link chain. And so we made a four chain. So anytime that you score four goals, you get a chain.”
Later that season, Hailey Bovino scored four goals, so O’Grady made her a gold chain. Last season, Jessie Seay scored four goals in a game, so O’Grady made her a gold chain too.
O’Grady the soccer player has always been similar to O’Grady the person. She’s generous and creative on and off the field. On Nov. 18, the Daughters of the American Revolution surprised her with the Good Citizen Recognition Award with an opportunity to win a college scholarship.
As a center midfielder, she’s used to leading her team in assists.
“When I was 10, someone threw me in the middle of the field,” she said. “I feel like I've always had a vision on how to distribute the ball to people, and I read the game pretty well. So I feel like it's a great fit for me. My whole life I've been unselfish.”
In seven games this season, the senior has scored 11 goals. In FPC’s 7-0 win against Menendez on Nov. 16, she scored four goals.
Now I get to make my own gold chain. That’s pretty special for it to come full circle.”
— SAVANNAH O'GRADY
“Now I get to make my own gold chain,” she said. “That’s pretty special for it to come full circle. I was trying to create something that adds to the cultural piece, and then to be able to receive that at the end is pretty solid.”
O’Grady scored in five straight games. On Nov. 27, she scored both goals in a 2-2 tie against Fletcher. Her 25-yard free kick curled into the net, knotting up the game midway through the second half.
“She’s scoring a lot of goals from the defensive mid position, which is rare,” coach Pete Hald said. “A lot of it I think is confidence. She’s over-the-top confident in her ability. She’s not rushing. I think you can tell she’s thinking (through) the game and making good decisions. She's bigger, stronger and faster than she was last year. She's done a lot of work technically. So, her skill level has gone up at the same time as her confidence level.”
O’Grady said the change in her game is the result of her switching soccer clubs to North Florida Soccer Academy with coach Mike Pickett.
“We focus on technical training and tactical stuff,” O’Grady said. “Instead of scrimmaging people our age, we scrimmage college teams in their offseason. We scrimmage teams like Daytona State, Thomas University, Embry-Riddle.”
During the summer, she made the drive to the soccer academy in Jacksonville four times a week.
“It’s an academy where you just hone in on your skill set,” O’Grady said. “I feel like it's really translated to my success at the beginning of the season here and really upping my leadership skills.”
The Bulldogs, 5-1-1 after a 3-1 win at Spruce Creek on Wednesday, Nov. 29, have seven seniors and seven freshmen on the roster.
“These freshmen are testing my patience,” O’Grady joked.
But they’ve also contributed to FPC’s hot start.
“We got more depth this year than we've had in the past,” Hald said. “These young girls are really changing our game.”
“Three or four freshmen regularly start for us,” O’Grady said. “You know, you're popping onto the field at 14 years old playing against 18 year olds. I’m just trying to show them that we understand and that we are proud of them that they're stepping up to that level.”
O’Grady would like to be a coach and educator some day, just like her parents.
“My mom (Imagine Schools Regional Director Lisa O’Grady) has been into education her whole life. My dad’s been in education before he got into coaching, and I want to be a college coach,” she said. “It’s kind of where my heart is.”
FPC assistant coach Cat Bradley said O’Grady is a coach on the field.
“She’s the one we lean on,” Bradley said. “She’s a positive player, and she's fun to be around. She’s the one who leads our team with everything.”
This year she’s leading a high-scoring team with 11 of FPC’s 31 goals.
“I trust these freshmen and I trust our front line,” she said. “But when the opportunity arises, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time moments. And I feel like I've always been that big-time player, and so I am confident in myself to be able to make things happen.”