HawkStrong: HFC forged Caroline O’Donohue into a better student and a better athlete

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Headshot of Caroline O'Donohue

Softball player Caroline O’Donohue found what she needed to excel both on and off the field at HFC.

“The academic aspect of HFC has been great! HFC has prepared me for the next several years in my academic career. The teachers go out of their way to help you and make sure you understand everything. I feel very comfortable and confident in what I have been taught thus far,” said O’Donohue, of Pinckney. “HFC has prepared me for the next steps in my athletic career. I have learned so much since my freshman year. My main position before HFC was shortstop. Coming to HFC has really helped me learn a lot more about playing third base and making myself stronger.”

“A superb example of a successful student-athlete”

O'Donohue is serious about school, not just softball. She noted that architecture instructor Chad Richert and HFC interior design instructor Michele Kress were very accommodating of her softball schedule.

“Those two have been exceptionally helpful and really went out of their way to help me when I had a class conflict with softball,” said O’Donohue. “They made sure I could do both without missing anything.”

Kress had O’Donohue in two of her interior design classes.

“I was always so impressed with her ability to meet the demands of being a college-level athlete while consistently producing outstanding work,” said Kress. “In my class, she demonstrated ingenuity and resourcefulness and was innovative in her solutions to problems, project requirements, or restrictions put before her. Ultimately, it was Caroline's very warm and friendly personality, and level of enthusiasm that left the biggest impression on me. In my opinion, she is a superb example of a successful student-athlete.”

Nancy Bryden Endowed Scholarship

Coach Steve Brown recruited O’Donohue to play for the Hawks.

“Caroline is always working hard and demanding so much from herself,” said Brown. “She’s always striving for perfection. It was a pleasure to coach her.”

Born in Southfield and raised in Pinckney, O’Donohue is the eldest of six. She is a graduate of Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, where she played softball, volleyball, and basketball. She recently graduated from HFC, earning her associate degree in interior design. At this time, while O’Donohue is entertaining some offers from 4-year colleges and universities, she is still unsure of where she’ll transfer in the fall.

“I want to continue playing softball as well as continue studying interior design,” said O’Donohue. “I’ve always loved redesigning and decorating rooms. I’ve always been pretty creative in that aspect and just getting more involved inspired me to go into interior design.”

O’Donohue attended HFC on the Nancy Bryden Endowed Scholarship, named after the HFC alumna who coached softball at HFC from 1976 through 2003 and also served as the College's athletic director for 27 years. O’Donohue is the second recipient of the Bryden Scholarship.

“I feel honored and grateful that I was chosen for this scholarship,” said O’Donohue.

“A once-in-a-lifetime experience” being on ESPN+

For the 2022-23 season, the Hawks finished third in the MCCAA Eastern Conference with a record of 17-13. The team’s record for the season was 21-17. One of the highlights of this season was being featured as the NJCCA Game of the Week on ESPN+.

“I thought it was pretty cool, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure! It was something I will never forget,” she recalled. “We won the conference my first year at HFC in 2021. I was All-Academic in 2022 and second team All-Conference this past season.”

Richert, who taught O’Donohue in his residential design class, was one of many people affiliated with HFC who watched the softball team on ESPN+.

“I have a 13-year-old daughter who plays softball,” said Richert. “My daughter and I watched the game when it was broadcast on ESPN+. At one point in the game, Caroline slid into home, even though she didn't need to. That was a great example for my daughter: Never stop hustling and working hard. Caroline brought that same attitude to the classroom, and it’s contagious!”

For O’Donohue, the best part about her time at HFC, particularly on the softball team, has been the people.

“The best part about playing softball at HFC has been meeting so many new friends – playing with and against – and creating a family,” she said. “The coaching staff was a big part of what attracted me to HFC. They really care about you and do the most to help you succeed in school and on the field. Coach Brown has been an amazing coach! He pushes us and has really helped me become a better player.”