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Catching Up With ...
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-12-09

Jennifer Miller O'Donnell

            As a senior in college, three years removed from her playing career, Jennifer

Jennifer Miller O'Donnell

Miller O'Donnell received a mailing seeking lacrosse referees. Recalling the fun her father had during a 40-year career as a basketball official, she filled out the application and attended a meeting.

            The Pennburg native started working middle school games in the spring of 1983. She quickly graduated to receiving high school and local college assignments.

            "I loved it," O'Donnell said.

            Nearly 38 years later, she has collected an impressive resume as a women's lacrosse official. She has officiated 18 Division I Final Four college tournaments, including 10 championship games. Internationally, O'Donnell has officiated in the U-19 World Championship held in Perth, Australia in 1999 and twice worked the Women's World Cup Championship, including once in High Wycombe, England.

            "It's been a great experience," she said. "It made me who I am today."

            According to O'Donnell, the pregame nerves she experiences as an official were similar to those she felt as a standout lacrosse and basketball player at Upper Perkiomen. She said it still goes away with the first whistle.

            "Once you hear that first whistle, everything is OK," said O'Donnell, a 1979 graduate of the high school.

            She works mostly assigning referees for all 11 NCAA Division I conferences. However, O'Donnell remains active on the field, working one or two games a week under normal circumstances, and training new referees.

            "It keeps me in the game and feeling fit," said O'Donnell, who was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2009 as well as as the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

            The key to being a referee is having a thick skin, knowing the rules and staying fit, according to O'Donnell, who received the West Chester University Hall of Fame's Athletic Addy Kelly award in 2012 for commitment to women's athletics. She says the priority is keeping the game safe and fair.

             "You can only call what you see," said O'Donnell, who graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science in health education. "You have to have your eyes on what you're supposed to watch, which means learning to anticipate the game."

            An All-American scholastic player for the Indians, she learned lacrosse in middle school gym class. O'Donnell liked the new sport immediately.

            "I thought it was fun," she said, adding that her attendance at a camp at West Chester University cemented her affinity for the sport.

            O'Donnell helped lead the Tribe's basketball team to a 20-game winning streak that culminated during her senior season. In 1979, the team qualified for the District One playoffs but lost 56-38 to Bishop Shanahan in the second round. The center averaged 16.5 points per game and was named all Bux-Mont for the second straight season.

            After enrolling at West Chester University, O'Donnell played basketball and lacrosse as a freshman. But she quit both after being accepted into the school's athletic training program.

            O'Donnell served as the first varsity lacrosse coach at West Chester Rustin High School from 2006 to 2008. The team made the district playoffs all three seasons.

            "That first season, we didn't have any seniors," she said. "The kids were eager. They worked really hard. It was really cool."

            Beteen 2010 and 2018, O'Donnell also served as the head field hockey coach at West Chester Henderson. She also started a youth field hockey program, and ran summer camps for field hockey and lacrosse in the community. 

 

Rob Camargo

            As a standout swimmer and water polo player at Upper Perkiomen, Rob

Rob Camargo

Camargo learned how to train his brain to deal with mental and physical fatigue. He utilized that toughness to excel as a college water polo player.

            Camargo currently relies on the same attributes to run the website company he founded seven years ago. At the RC Website Group, he leads a young talented group of SEO specialists, web designers, writers, developers and programmers.

            Customer support is a focus of his success. According to Camargo, the business has never received a rating of less than five stars.  "There is a lot of competition in the web development business," said Camargo, who lives in the Spring Mount section of Lower Frederick. "I always try to make sure my customers are happy. I'm competing against firms all over the world."

            The Hereford native considered water polo his best sport in high school. He played the sport as a club team as a ninth-grader and competed the first year it was an official sport the following season. A group of 12 classmates made it happen in the pool, according to Camargo.

            "We all knew what we were doing," he said. Camargo shared the team's MVP award with Kris Baccari during his senior season.  According to Camargo, many of the teammates remain close. He said one remains one of his best friends.

            During the winter, he competed on the Tribe's swimming teams. Camargo competed in multiple events, at one point specializing in the backstroke. He qualified for the PIAA championships during his final three seasons. As a senior, he qualified for states in the 200 and 400 meter free relays. 

"Swimming was fun," Camargo said.

            In the spring, he competed on the track and field team, competing in middle distance events. Camargo described the highlight as qualifying for the Penn Relays as a senior in the 1,600 meter relay.

            At Slippery Rock, Camargo played four years at the Division I program. He said he worked hard to be a well-rounded player.  "I tried to be good at all aspects," said Carmago, who served as a co-captain his senior season for The Rock. "That's why I was able to excel. Most of the players who were bigger than me were not as quick as I was."

            Slippery Rock competed against a top-notch schedule during Carmago's tenure, including Pepperdine. During a tour in Canada, it faced a team from Hungary.  "The Hungarian players were so big," he said. "They were incredible. Water polo is like football to them."

            After graduating with a degree in computer science, Camargo worked in multiple professional positions before starting his own website company. At any one time, it works with approximately 100 clients.

            The company, which has partnered with an advertising agency in Phoenixville and a venture capitalist in the King of Prussia area, has clients in Chicago, California, Florida and Boston. Currently, it is helping to construct a 3D website for an auto parts company. Recently, the RC Website Group constructed a website for an actor from the Fast and Furious movie franchise. 

            "I'm constantly educating my clients," Camargo said. "I consider myself a problem solver."


 

 

 

 

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