Knight of the Week: Roisin O’Neill

Freshman mid-distance runner Roisin O’Neill is becoming a vital aspect of the Geneseo track and field team in regard to both her personality and her skill. With about three years remaining in her Knight career, O’Neill has plenty of time to make a significant impact on the program. (Theo Liu/assoc. photo editor)

The transition from high school to college is often quite difficult for most first-year students, but with the right mindset it becomes easy—as was the case for freshman mid-distance runner Roisin O’Neill.

Athletics have always been a part of O’Neill’s life. Before joining her school’s track team in seventh grade, she was a competitive Irish dancer. Her dancing experiences have developed her ambition throughout her running career.

O’Neill is from Locust Valley, N.Y., where she attended Locust Valley High School. After one year of competing on the Locust Valley seventh grade track team, O’Neill moved up to the varsity team where she became teammates with two of her older sisters. 

O’Neill comes from a family of five, of which four were talented runners—including O’Neill herself. Having three older sisters who were into running certainly pushed O’Neill harder throughout her high school career. O’Neill was influenced by this motivation when deciding which college to attend—as she aspired to run at the collegiate level.

O’Neill chose Geneseo because she wanted to be a member of a competitive team, but not one as demanding as Division I. Geneseo was the perfect fit for her, as its track and field team is one of the best in the SUNYAC.

Although this is her first year running women’s track for Geneseo, she has quickly become a key part of the team, as she is only one of a few mid-distance runners. O’Neill generally runs the 800-meters and 400-meters; however, she is quite versatile in her abilities. Early in the season, O’Neill ran the 600-meters at Houghton College, in which she achieved the third best time in Geneseo program history. 

O’Neill’s discipline allows her to see her goals to their completion. Her current objective is to be a part of the team’s competitive relays, and ultimately, she would like to see her team win the SUNYAC Championship.

After her first day of practice, O’Neill remembers being terrified of what was to come next. Her teammates were very encouraging and helped her adjust quickly. Those feelings soon subsided, as she has developed many lifelong friendships with her teammates.

“The team’s personalities are all unique. Everyone is so quirky, but that made it easy for me to assimilate,” O’Neill said.

As a freshman acclimating to college athletics, O’Neill has found that having a supportive network of friends has helped her immensely. She has developed close relationships with her teammates during and outside of practices, and explained that the team has movie nights, which is just one example of how they form these bonds.

These small moments provide a great opportunity to share in each other’s victories and offer encouragement for the future. 

“We always get excited for each other, which I really like,” O’Neill said. “Experiencing each other’s successes is something great, because you know all your hard work has paid off.” 

Outside of track, O’Neill has a variety of hobbies like knitting, reading, hiking and baking—all of which help her relax. 

O’Neill is an economics major, and plans to further her education and attend graduate school after she leaves Geneseo. She hopes in the future to become an environmental economist, where she can observe conservation in the economy. 

O’Neill looks up to Olympic champion for track and field Allyson Felix. She shares Felix’s drive to persevere and obtain one’s goals.

“Always remind yourself of the goals you want to achieve,” O’Neill said. “If you ever lose sight of what your goals are or are struggling—everything will work itself out.” 

This is a mentality that O’Neill carries throughout her track and academic career.

With just over three years left as a Geneseo Knight, O’Neill has plenty of time to accomplish all that she hopes, in addition to becoming one of the top competitors in the track and field program—a direction in which she is already headed.