Mike O’Neill (third from the left) will get high honors from NJYS. (Photo courtesy from New Jersey Youth Soccer)
EAST WINDSOR, N.J. ― New Jersey Youth Soccer will induct Rutgers University women’s head coach Mike O’Neill with his official induction into its Hall of Fame at its 32nd annual award dinner at the Pines Manor on Friday night.
“To all the players I coached, thank you, as if not for you this award is not possible,” O’Neill said. “To receive this honor, I am extremely humbled. To go into the New Jersey Youth Soccer Hall of Fame along with so many of the New Jersey greats, I am honored.”
Growing up in Kearny, O’Neill fell in love with the game while playing for the Kearny Thistle and the Kearny Scots. He received the Coggins Award, which is given to the top high school player in New Jersey, after leading Kearny High School to the 1984 state championship. That team was undefeated (24-0), earning a No. 1 national ranking. O’Neill was inducted into the Kearny High School Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Soccer Coaches Association of New Jersey Hall of Fame last March.
“It is our sincere honor to recognize Mike for his lifetime contributions to NJ Youth Soccer and the sport as a whole,” NJYS president Evelyn Gill said. “He joins a long list of men and women from our great state who gave so much and continue to give so much to create a fun and safe soccer experience at all ages and abilities for the youth soccer community.”
O’Neill has made a huge impact on the development of soccer from a local, national and international perspective. In addition to leading several different NJYS clubs to state, regional and national championships, he was also a New Jersey ODP head coach from 1994-2000. He serves as the girls director of coaching for the Players Development Academy. During his time with ODP and the Players Development Academy, he has helped produce many successful college and professional players such as U.S. women’s national team standouts Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly.
“For me, it has always been about New Jersey soccer,” O’Neill said. “I was fortunate enough to play and develop in the New Jersey Youth Soccer organization and compete in the ODP program with so many great players and coaches. My coaching career has always been in the great State of New Jersey, from club soccer, to ODP, to PDA and to Rutgers University. It has been an honor to help develop so many players and to have the opportunity to grow the game in my home state. I truly feel blessed.”
Promoted to Rutgers University women’s head coach in 2014, O’Neill completed his sixth season in the position. He has been on the Rutgers sidelines for 20 years after serving on the staff of NJYS Hall of Famer Glenn Crooks prior to becoming head coach. During his time as an assistant coach, the Scarlet Knights produced accomplished players such as Canada internationals Jonelle Filigno, Shannon Woeller and two-time FIFA Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, who is an ambassador for New Jersey Youth Soccer.
O’Neill led Rutgers to its most successful season in program history in 2015 when the team reached the Final Four of the NCAA Women’s College Cup. He is only head coach who has guided the Scarlet Knights to an NCAA Tournament appearance in each of his first six seasons. During his tenure, O’Neill has seen Rutgers produce 10 MAC Hermann Trophy candidates, 11 United Soccer Coaches All-Americans and 68 All Big East selections. Further, seven Rutgers alumnae have been drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League over the past five years.
A graduate of Seton Hall University, O’Neill holds a USSF “A” License and a KNVB Dutch International Badge.