O'Sullivan shakes off broken finger


POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2009

Usually the doctor is the one making decisions, but not on this day.

Long Beach State senior Keala O'Sullivan, a 2005 Kamehameha graduate, had pins placed into her right middle finger after breaking it in a water polo match on March 22.





        » College: Long Beach State

» Class: Senior


» Height: 5-5


» Position: Utility


» High school: Kamehameha '05


» Hometown: Waimanalo


» Highlights: Two-time team captain; 2008 Academic All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation; set a career high with 17 goals and counting her senior season; second on the team with 22 steals as a junior




Originally scheduled to be out for “;four to five weeks,”; O'Sullivan visited the doctor on Wednesday, 24 days after suffering the injury, and wasn't going to leave until she got what she wanted.

“;I was telling the doctor I don't care if it's broken, O'Sullivan said. “;'You have to take it out now.'”;

The 49ers conclude their regular season with matches this weekend against UC Santa Barbara and USC, and O'Sullivan will be in the pool after missing four games.

“;It's still a little bit fractured, but the doctor said it's healing, which is the main thing,”; O'Sullivan said. “;I just need to wear this small splint.”;

O'Sullivan broke the finger blocking a shot in the final seconds of an 8-6 win over Cal State Bakersfield.

It was the first real injury of any kind in O'Sullivan's career, and the timing of it, with less than a month left in her collegiate water polo career, made it twice as painful.

“;I was so bummed,”; O'Sullivan said. “;At first we thought it was just a dislocation, but nope, it was a broken.”;

One of only two seniors on the team, O'Sullivan has started 82 of the 95 games she's appeared. A two-time team captain, she's fifth on the team with 17 goals and has found the back of the net 40 times in her career.

Her journey to Long Beach State started while taking in a college game between the 49ers and Hawaii while in high school. Hawaii won the game 4-3, but something about the way the 49ers played was intriguing to the Kamehameha standout.

“;I don't know what it was, but I just knew I wanted to go away and play at Long Beach,”; O'Sullivan said.

One of her biggest obstacles at Long Beach State has been dealing with transition at the top. She's played for four different coaches in college after the original coach who recruited her left to coach the national team.

An interim coach led the way during her freshman year, and at one point, she considered transferring back home to Hawaii.

“;We had three national-team players my freshman year, but I think our coach was still trying to learn our system,”; O'Sullivan said. “;I planned on coming back (to Hawaii), but our new coach came in and it was my first time having a great coach.”;

Catharine von Schwarz, a former Olympic team member, coached the team for two years, but left after O'Sullivan's junior season when she became pregnant. Gavin Arroyo, who coached the men's team, took over to become O'Sullivan's fourth coach in as many years.

“;I think this has been our best year because everyone has been so excited to learn and it's been so much fun,”; O'Sullivan said.

Because her mother used to work for Hawaiian Airlines, O'Sullivan was able to visit home roughly “;eight to 10 times”; a year to surf on long weekends. She'll graduate with a double major in operations management and management at the end of the semester and plans on coming home to try to get her master's at UH.

It'll be the first time in as long as she can remember that she won't have water polo and sports to balance her life, and it's going to take a while to get used to it.

“;I can't see my life without playing sports,”; O'Sullivan said. “;It's going to be a challenge for me not to have it anymore because it's always been school and then water polo after.

I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe I'll get a coaching job because I just can't imagine not having water polo in my life.”;