Bam Inducted into Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame

by USA Field Hockey

Content Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Katie (O’Donnell) Bam was the best player in the nation before she played her first collegiate game. 

Head coach Missy Meharg knew Katie, or “OD” as she was called by teammates and coaches, was special long before she committed to being a Terrapin.

“I remember one of the first things I saw in OD was she was as fast on the ball as without it,” Meharg said. “OD had an unmatched desire to score. OD had an innate will to get the ball back when she or a teammate lost it. The technical variety to get it back and go directly to goal and score - It was crazy fun to watch and definitely a joy to coach.”

Bam was the first-ever Terrapin to be named ACC Player of the Year in all four years of her career. In addition, she was a four-time First Team NFHCA All-American. Bam still owns Maryland records in goals scored (99), assists (108), and points (306). 

But the individual accolades aren’t what set her apart.

“OD carried a flare of confidence that lit up the arena. She scored huge goals on the biggest stage,” Meharg said. “Her name, her numbers and her passion and style as an attacker are imprinted in our history of Maryland field hockey.”

Heading into the NCAA Tournament in 2007, Bam’s freshman season, the Terrapins were 17-2 and coming off the last two NCAA titles. But a tough 1-0 loss to Penn State in the quarterfinals kept the Terrapins out of the Final Four.

“Honestly, that loss was just so hard,” Bam said. “We were so excited to have the Final Four at home and I just knew I never wanted to feel like that again in my career.”

Using that anger as motivation, Bam ensured that didn’t happen again in her career. The Terrapins went on to win the 2008 NCAA Championship - their sixth as a program.

Entering her junior year in 2009, the Terrapins were stacked. They won 23 straight games, all the way to the national championship game. O’Donnell scored 28 goals and notched 31 assists to lead the Terrapins’ offense. 

The Terrapins faced off against their rival, North Carolina, in the NCAA Championship game. After a back-and-forth affair, the Tar Heels pulled off the stunning upset when they scored with 11 seconds left. 

“I remember how much it hurt watching that goal go in and watching UNC celebrate,” Bam said. “However, I also remember standing in a room at the hotel, most of us crying from the loss but talking about everything we appreciated about the team and our seniors that year. I remember enjoying so much of that season because of the team we had.”

The devastating end to a perfect season and her love for her teammates helped fuel the drive for Bam’s last ride.

The 2010 Terrapins dropped an early match at Princeton, then won 13 straight games to win the ACC and advance to the Final Four. 

In the Final Four matchup vs. Ohio State, Bam picked up a hat trick and scored all three of Maryland’s goals in a 3-1 victory.

“OD put on a display of just absolute brilliant dominance and belief in the quest to become National Champions,” Meharg said. “Nothing was going to come between OD and that title.”

The Terrapins put themselves in the NCAA Championship game once again. Their opponent? North Carolina.

This time, the Terrapins had an extraordinary twist of fate on their side. The Maryland athletic department had submitted a bid years prior to host the Final Four at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex in hopes the stars would align for the Terps to get a chance to play for a national championship on their home turf.

More than 2,400 people packed The Complex, filling it like never before.  

“This was the most epic game I ever played in wearing a Maryland uniform,” Bam said. “I remember most of this game and the feeling at the Complex. I took in the surroundings while names were being called, it was literally a packed house and the band was playing proudly. There was just an energy that was amazing to be a part of.”

The Terrapins struck early with a goal in the first five minutes. North Carolina tied it up just before halftime, then scored again early in the second half to take a 2-1 lead. The Terps found the equalizer to force overtime with just under eight minutes to play. 

In overtime hockey, teams play two 7-v-7 golden-goal periods before a shootout to decide a winner. With just 2:10 left in the second overtime period, Bam intercepted the ball near midfield. Bam passed the ball up to teammate Megan Frazer as she fell, her legs dead tired from playing nearly 98 minutes of hockey. Frazer brought the ball into the circle and created space for a wide-open look at the goal. She buried it, giving the Terrapins their seventh NCAA title as a program. But the opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without the turnover created by OD.

“I remember being so tired and passing it to Fraz,” Bam said. “We were just exhausted after almost 100 minutes of hockey at the highest level. I found my second wind for the celebration. I will never, ever forget this game. Especially after losing the season before and then beating UNC in double overtime, at home, in my last game as a Terrapin.”

After playing in the 2012 Olympics in London, Bam returned to College Park as a student assistant coach. She stayed on the US National Team and competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She went on to coach at Harvard and then returned to College Park as an assistant coach in 2017.

“I’m sure everyone is impacted by their college choice, but Maryland, even to this day, has impacted my life,” Bam said. “Games come and go, but the memories I have with my teammates from all four years far exceed any game or score during my college career. 

“Maryland propelled me forward as a hockey player to compete in the Olympics, introduced me to my husband, and brought me back to the area. I came back in 2017 to coach and decided to spread my wings outside of field hockey in 2021. There are so many opportunities around DC, we decided to stay in the area to raise our family. I’m proud to tell anyone I meet I’m a Terp.”