Athlete Spotlight: New Athletic Director

Shy Yamasaki, Staff Writer

As we started the beginning of a new academic year, we welcomed a new Athletic Director here on campus. Steve O’Brien grew up in San Jose, CA. His interests were playing soccer, baseball and running track. He spent his time at Boston College and transferred to Santa Clara University, where he majored in History and Economics. During his time at Santa Clara University, he was a member of the men’s cross-country team. During his college years, he met Julianne at an alumni function, who is a civil engineer and ran cross country at Santa Clara University. O’Brien played on the USC men’s club soccer team and even attempted to pursue competitive soccer opportunities at the next level after he graduated. In addition to his education at Boston College and Santa Clara University, O’Brien studied at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He practiced transactional finance and in real estate as an attorney. After his practice in transactional finance and as a real estate attorney, he was able to pursue his career in college athletic administration. O’Brien’s stops were at Santa Clara University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the United States Naval Academy and San Jose State University before he joined us at SMU. 

O’Brien hopes to focus on making the athletic department more process-oriented. O’Brien stated, “I believe that ‘winning teams’, the measure by which most people may consider the defining benchmark of success in athletics, is a lagging indicator.  In order to get to that point, and in order for competitive success to be more sustainable and of greatest consequence, a foundation for that success must be built.  That will happen by taking a series of deliberate steps. For the purposes of this article, I think we can boil it down to 5 steps.” Within those steps, he has mentioned that relationship building and assessment are ‘key constituents inside athletics, across the campus, and throughout the community.’ Furthermore, with this step, it will help keep the trains running on time and address time-sensitive issues. The other steps include plan development, experimentation and scaling, have Saint Athletics produce across three critical areas and assess, refine and re-attempt. Another hope O’Brien has for SMU, as a whole, is to demonstrate a robust and competitively successful mission aligned intercollegiate athletic program. With that, he also wants that intercollegiate athletic program competitiveness here so it can ‘positively contribute to the overall development of student-athletes while simultaneously benefitting the entire campus community, advancing strategic institutional objectives and serving a critical relationship building function with families, alumni and local/regional community partners.”  

O’Brien is a hard worker and very dedicated to the things that are important to him. Much of his free- time centers around his family and youth sports. He has helped coach his eldest son’s soccer and baseball teams. He is looking forward to being more involved with his younger son’s team when he is able to start playing. O’Brian also enjoys running the trails here on campus. “The trails around Saint Martin’s campus are incredible!” O’Brien stated. He also is looking forward to exploring more of Washington and the PNW with his family. Currently, he is committing himself to becoming more adept at using social media.

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