Hall of Fame 2018: Joe O’Donnell

By: Friday, May 18, 2018, TRIB-LIVE

This is the fifth in a series of profiles on the 2018 inductees into the Fox Chapel Sports Hall of Fame. The banquet will be June 2 at Harmar House. For more information, contact gymbeck63@aol.com.

Joe O’Donnell was a four-year soccer letterman, three-year track letterman and two-year football letterman. He was a member of the soccer team that won the PIAA title in 1990 and the WPIAL title in ’91. In football, he made first-team all-conference as a kicker.

In college, he started as a freshman at Tennessee-Martin as a kicker and transferred to Maryland. He started for three seasons and earned ACC honorable mention recognition. He remains the most accurate kicker in Maryland history.

He began a professional football career with the Florida Bobcats of the Arena League and was the 2000 Rookie of the Year. In 2002 and ’03, he played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and in ’03 won the fan favorite award. He signed with the Steelers in ’02 and joined the Oakland Raiders 2002-03.

He works in medical sales for Hologic and resides in Birmingham, Ala., with his wife Elizabeth and four children, Gianna, Mathew, Joey, and Mary Elizabeth.

“Coach Jim Perry had contacted me earlier in the year and mentioned that he was going to nominate me,” O’Donnell said. “As time passed, I had forgotten about it and then was very surprised and honored when I found out.

“I am very grateful to him for nominating me.

“I will always remember winning the WPIAL and PIAA championships and also kicking some game-winning field goals. One of the most lasting was kicking a game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired in the final game of my senior year.

“I enjoyed both sports. When I started playing football, many of the soccer and football players were already good friends. There was a good bit of bantering back and forth as a few of our games were won by field goals. The soccer guys liked to brag that it took one of their own to win football games for them.”

O’Donnell still keeps in touch with coaches and teammates.

“Coach Perry has a group email with the members of our state championship team. Coach Joe Naunchik also reached out to congratulate me on being inducted. He played a huge role in getting me recruited by Maryland.

“I used to do some coaching, but, for the most part, I enjoy watching our kids play more than I do coaching them.”