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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

-Hebrews 13:8

After beginning her career at the University of Illinois where Morgan O’Brien became one of the most consistent liberos in the game, Morgan went to the University of Texas where she helped lead her team to the 2021 NCAA Volleyball championship. Although the Longhorns would come up short in a heartbreaking loss to Kentucky, the impact Morgan O’Brien has had is undeniable. But for Morgan, more important than the wins or the awards is that she knows she is leaving an impact on those around her.

A Libertyville, Illinois native, faith has always been an important part of life for Morgan. Her dad, CJ Ray, says that keeping faith first was always a priority. For him, faith is what keeps him going each day as he looks to impact those around him. “My faith in Christ is the cornerstone of my life and everything I do is weighed against what I know about my Lord and Savior. I can’t imagine living on planet earth without knowing Jesus.” He says that as a father, seeing Morgan mature not only on the court but off of it too has been his greatest joy. “Seeing her grow in faith has been the greatest joy of my life. She is not only a world class athlete but one of the most humble people I know. I love that about her. She never demands the spotlight and is always putting others before herself.”

As Morgan O’Brien became a star at Libertyville High School and chose to attend Illinois to begin her collegiate career, she says it has been during those years at college that she has seen her faith grow more than ever before. “I grew up going to church with my family but once I moved out and had to put forward an individual effort, my faith really started to grow. Faith has always been an important part of my life but it wasn’t until college that I really began to pursue a deeper, stronger relationship with God. It was then that I started making faith my first priority.” After graduating from Illinois with a degree in community health, Morgan went to Texas for her masters degree. Her impact on the Longhorns since joining them, both on the court as an athlete but also as a leader off of it too, has been incredible.

Since becoming part of coach Jerritt Elliott’s championship bound Texas team, Morgan says her faith is what motivates her every time that she takes the court. “Faith influences my volleyball career in every way possible. God’s plan for me determines my path and purpose in sport and with my faith I have complete trust in that plan.” Morgan says that trust allows her to be confident even when things don’t go her way because she knows there is a greater plan in store. “There will always be ups and downs in sports, and through my faith and trust in God I have felt so much stability in those times. I know that during the downs and the bad days that I am not fighting any battle alone. In the ups, I give glory to God for my successes and talent. It’s so powerful to play for something so much bigger than the sport and the score. All glory goes to Him.”

As Morgan and the rest of the Longhorns look towards the next season and anticipate the chance to compete for another national title, she is grounded by her faith and reminded of what matters most. Beyond any number of championship rings or MVP awards, Morgan says her biggest impact will come in the way she lives each day and the love and encouragement that she leaves in the lives of everyone she interacts with.

*Photos courtesy of Texas Athletics


Ethan Kruse

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