Alvirne’s Molly O’Donnell signs with Merrimack – Lowell Sun

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A senior at Alvirne High School where she’s earned 13 varsity letters, Molly O’Donnell has left her mark with the Broncos volleyball, gymnastics and track teams, including a Division 1 State Championship in the long jump in 2019-20. Courtesy photo

There’s simply ‘No Quit’ in Molly O’Donnell.

It’s an attitude, a work ethic, and a way of life that the Hudson, N.H. native has carried with her throughout the past four years at Alvirne High School. And one that she’ll undoubtedly carry with her to her next destination, Merrimack College.

A highly versatile athlete with an unquenchable thirst for success, the 13-time letterwinner has signed on to run track and field with the Warriors in the fall.

“It’s so exciting,” said O’Donnell, who received an athletic scholarship to the NCAA Division 1 college for track. “I’m very excited for what’s to come in the future.”

The talented upperclassmen made it official back on Nov. 10, signing her national letter of intent at a special ceremony at Alvirne High.

“It was really nice to have all my family and friends there and making it official in front of them,” said O’Donnell, 17. “It was great.”
A multifaceted athlete, O’Donnell drew plenty of attention from a number of college recruiters across New England. She narrowed the field down to a handful, with Merrimack, Assumption and Stonehill leading the list.

“Then I did a tour and was just sold on Merrimack,” said O’Donnell. “When I went in for my official tour, the whole team was super nice and the campus was awesome. I just figured it was the one for me.”

Even though her athletic scholarship is for track, the Warriors have also extended her an invitation to compete on the volleyball team as well, if she chooses.

“As of right now it’s just track, but I’m going back-and-forth between doing both, since I have the option to do that as well,” said O’Donnell. “They’ve just begun volleyball, a new D1 program and they’re going to build it up over the next few years. I think they’re going to be really great.”

Born in Lowell, O’Donnell moved to Hudson, NH as a toddler, living there her whole life. She fell into sports at an early age, indulging in a variety of athletic endeavors that spilled over into her freshman year at Alvirne.

“Those were great times,” she said. “My freshman year I did three sports, volleyball, gymnastics and spring track. Sophomore year I did volleyball, and in the winter I did gymnastics and indoor track.”

As a freshman she finished second in the state in the high jump, losing a state title during a jump-off after being tied with the eventual champ. Throughout the same year she continued to compete in club gymnastics at A2 in Salem NH, where she qualified and placed at states and regionals.

Her sophomore year she continued her varsity volleyball campaign, while continuing to make gains in track. O’Donnell originally decided to give up gymnastics to be able to compete in winter track, but her athletic director saw the drive and potential allowing her to play both at the same time. Her days were booked going from school to track practice, then gymnastics practice. Most days she would get home after 9 p.m. for dinner and homework. Although exhausting, she never complained, all while maintaining a stellar 3.5 GPA.

That sophomore year she led her volleyball team to the state tournament, qualified for the state and New England track championships in both winter and spring track, while winning a state title in the long jump. O’Donnell becomes the third member of her family to have a state championship banner with her name hanging in the Alvirne gym, joining her two uncles, state wrestling champs Tim O’Donnell and John Wajda.

“That’s amazing,” said O’Donnell, on her state championship banner. “I’m going to be up there forever.”

The following spring season was cancelled due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting a few speed bumps in the then-talented sophomore’s path. Most of her junior and senior years were scrubbed, although she was able to help lead the volleyball team into the state playoffs.

Now a senior, O’Donnell was named team captain on both the volleyball and track teams. The volleyball squad made the state tournament, while Molly was named to the NH All-State Volleyball Team. Senior year winter track was cancelled, but the hope is she’ll resume her spring track chase to defend her state title. All the while, she has maintained a 3.7 GPA as a senior and has a class rank of 70 out of 251.

“We didn’t have any winter meets,” O’Donnell said. “But it’s been great to get back into things senior year.”

According to Alvirne track coach Colleen Currier, O’Donnell has amassed quite a high school resume.

“Molly has had an extremely successful track career during her time on the Alvirne track team,” said Currier. “She’s consistently competed at a high level in multiple events, including high jump and long jump. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and makes us all laugh. We’ll miss her next year, but we are very excited to see her continue to grow and develop as an athlete at Merrimack College.”

A girl for all seasons, O’Donnell’s 13 varsity letters have shown her commitment to her craft. And while it could be exhausting for some, the added workload hasn’t phased her in the slightest.

“I think it’s all about motivation and the drive to want to do everything and to excel at everything you can,” O’Donnell said.

Part of Molly’s drive has been fueled by her grandfather and his ‘No Quit’ motto. Molly has helped her grandfather for over the past 10 years with his traumatic brain injury. They have a very special bond, and the family has lived a unique lifestyle balancing a life of Molly’s athletics and standing alongside a family member fighting for his life for several years.

“It’s all about just trying to persevere through anything and everything,” O’Donnell said. “If you work hard enough, you’ll always get there.”

Her grandfather is also her inspiration as she pursues a college degree in occupational therapy.

“It’s definitely connected to my whole ‘No Quit’ experience with my grandfather,” O’Donnell said. “Watching him go through rehab. I thought the OT track was awesome and it helped him, which impacted us.”

As high school career draws to a close,  O’Donnell is ready to start a whole new chapter in the collegiate ranks.

“I’m really looking forward to being on a bigger team, competing in even bigger meets and travelling places,” she said. “It’s all very exciting.”

And at the rate Molly O’Donnell is going, nothing appears to be standing in her way.

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