Oberg joins idols as top senior athlete

Submitted photo The 2019 Carol Donnelly Award winner, Jacque Oberg, with her parents, Mary and Dan. The Donnelly Award is given annually to St. Edmond’s top female senior athlete.

Jacque Oberg’s passion and desire for competing year-round at St. Edmond came from watching Anna Yung do just that.

So it was only fitting that Oberg joined Yung in being named a Carol Donnelly winner — the award handed out annually to the top senior female athlete at the school.

Oberg amassed 17 letters over volleyball, basketball, tennis and softball for the Gaels, earning numerous all-North Central Conference and all-district honors in the process.

“When I was younger, just becoming a Gael athlete was what I was looking forward to the most,” Oberg said. “I spent a lot of time at Rogers Park watching some of the greatest athletes play the sport that I love. I looked up to my sister, Allie Oberg (Salz), and her numerous talented teammates, including Kaitlyn Barrett (Stewart) and Anna Yung, two very talented shortstops.

“Eventually, I got the chance to play with Anna my eighth-grade year, and from then on, I strived to bring that same level of talent. Anna proved to me that being a year-round athlete could bring joy, even when faced with the many stresses and challenges that come with being a high school student.”

Oberg was a key part of two regional final appearances for the St. Edmond softball team. She hit .350 this past season on the diamond with a team-high 19 RBI, two homers, six doubles and 10 steals.

A five-year letterwinner for the Gael softball squad, Oberg collected 135 hits, drove in 88 runs, scored 77 times and stole 47 bases. Twice over that time St. Edmond won at least 20 games.

Her passion for sports was first developed at a young age during “backyard baseball games” with SEHS head boys basketball coach Adolph Kochendorfer, fellow classmate Jackson Kochendorfer; Oberg’s brother, Michael; her sister, Allie; and other neighborhood friends.

“The joy that a backyard game brought me sparked my interest in the athletic scene at St. Edmond. Playing at the ‘big field’ sometimes feels like I’m back at home, playing a fun game,” she said. “If there’s anything that I want to pass on to younger athletes, it’s that you can’t take the game so seriously that you lose your love for it.

“So many great memories have been made with teammates, coaches and fans who have become my family over these past five years.”

She also gave credit to her numerous coaches over the years who helped “get me where I am today.”

“Coach Dee Huss (volleyball) always put an emphasis on how important offseason workouts were,” Oberg said. “Coach Steve Neuberger (basketball) showed us that he cared about us and wanted to coach us. Coach Leah DeBaun (tennis) gave me a sport that I can enjoy for the rest of my life.

“And Coach Nick Clark (softball) always stressed that the amount of effort you put forth is one of the only aspects of the game that you control. The one thing I will remember from him is his saying, ‘Always give your best and then some. ‘And then some’ gets you places.’

“No matter how the season went, these coaches never gave up on me or my teammates. I can’t think of a time when my coaches didn’t have my back, and I’m thankful for all they have done for me throughout the years.”

Oberg will attend the University of Iowa in the fall to major in biology on a pre-med track.

Named after Carol Donnelly, the first girls physical education instructor at St. Edmond, this award has been handed out every year since 1997.

The other finalists for the award were Jillian Cosgrove, Erin Flattery, Abby Landwehr and Macey Mason.

“When I look at all of the nominees for the award — Macey, Erin, Abby, and Jillian — I see the girls that put in time at the gym, spent countless hours doing tee-work at the arena, ran the extra mile and did everything they possibly could to make themselves a better athlete and ultimately a better person,” Oberg said. “It’s so rewarding to be recognized for the hard work and extra effort we put in throughout these past five years.

“Every nominee was worthy of this award, and I am very thankful that I was able to compete with them as teammates.”