Utah Valley University Director of Athletics Vince Otoupal announced the promotion of Veronica O'Brien from academic advisor and student services coordinator to director of academics. In this role, O'Brien will oversee the academic program for all of UVU's athletic teams and will report to Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women's Administrator Megan Kennedy and Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Academic Performance Cameron Walker.
"Veronica is a valuable asset to the UVU Athletic Department," Kennedy said. "Her vast experience and understanding of NCAA Division I Athletics offers a unique perspective for our student-athletes and coaches. She is completely dedicated to the academic success of the UVU student-athletes and goes above and beyond her job responsibilities to make sure Wolverine Athletics is successful. Veronica's leadership and vision for an outstanding athletic academic program is key as the Wolverines move forward in the WAC and NCAA. She is a wonderful individual, has an incredible work ethic and her background and experience have prepared her for this new position. I am confident in her abilities and proud to have Veronica O'Brien as a part of the leadership team in Wolverine Athletics."
O'Brien has been advising student-athletes at Utah Valley for over a year and a half now following a long and successful career in athletics. A native of Orangeville, Ontario, O'Brien was a standout midfielder for the University of New Hampshire from 1990-93. While there, she was a three-time all-conference selection and an Adidas Scholar Athlete All-American, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education/pedagogy. O'Brien was inducted into the UNH Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
Her soccer career was not limited to collegiate competition, however, as she was a member of the Canadian National Team from 1989-98, earning a starting midfield spot for the 1995 side that represented Canada in that year's FIFA World Cup in Sweden.
From there, O'Brien shifted into a coaching role, beginning as an assistant coach for the 1994 and 1995 seasons at her alma mater. Her first head-coaching gig came in 1996 at the University of Texas-El Paso, where she spent five seasons, winning the Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division Coach of the Year in 1998. O'Brien then took the reins at UC Riverside in 2000, taking the squad to its first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2005 and winning Big West Coach of the Year honors.
Following the 2011 season, O'Brien left the sidelines to transition into academic support, taking the position of academic performance specialist at UCR. While coaching, she earned her master's degree in coaching and athletic administration, all the while serving in other administrative roles. O'Brien worked as assistant compliance director, while at UTEP and served as the chair for the NCAA Men's and Soccer Rules Committee from 2008-10.
During her time at UVU, O'Brien has built a solid relationship with all the student-athletes and coaches that she works with. As a former student-athlete and coach, O'Brien — who was named the UVU Specialty Advisor of the Year in 2012-13 — has a tremendous amount of experience of knowing how to help student-athletes succeed in the classroom.
"I am very grateful to Vince Otoupal and Megan Kennedy for their trust and support by providing me the opportunity to continue to contribute to an outstanding Athletic Department and university. I am also very thankful to be a member of an amazing student-athlete services team and for the opportunity to work with talented coaches and student-athletes," O'Brien said. "I look forward to the challenges ahead as we continue to grow and improve programs for our student-athletes. Together we will continue to inspire championship levels of confidence in each of our student-athletes to ensure first and foremost that they graduate knowing they have and will continue to accomplish their goals while being positive contributing members of our community, and forever have a sense of pride and belonging to Utah Valley University."
In O'Brien's new position, she will showcase more of a leadership role. O'Brien will oversee her academic advising team that consists of Cody Sparrow (academic advisor), Ashley Hansen (mentor advisor) and Craig Stuki (mentor advisor).
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.