Ireland native and senior athlete Clarie Kelly prepares for graduation

Claire Kelly is a senior on both the women’s golf and soccer teams. A four-year veteran for the soccer team, Kelly has featured in 57 games for the Hilltoppers, with 26 starts, two goals and an assist from central midfield.

Hailing from Limerick, Ireland, Kelly has opted to take advantage of the NCAA Covid Eligibility-Waiver, which will allow her to continue to compete in both golf and soccer for an extra session while completing her degree in microbiology.

She came to West Liberty as a freshman in 2018. “I chose West Liberty after being recruited by Barry Christmas to play soccer,” said Kelly. “I liked the idea of the small college, and the biology program also fit what I wanted.”

Before making the move to the States and joining the Hilltoppers, Kelly had a successful youth career at home in Ireland, as she captained the All-Ireland Schools team while also making several senior appearances for Limerick F.C. Being involved in senior competitions is a rare feat for younger players but the experience that Kelly gained from playing at this level made her a standout recruit for West Liberty’s Head Coach, Barry Christmas.

Although mainly serving as a box-to-box, ball-winning midfielder, Kelly has contributed 2 goals and an assist during her time on the hilltop, with her first career goal coming in her freshman year as a game-winner against Ohio County rivals, Wheeling University.

During her freshman season, she played a significant role in securing the program’s second appearance in the conference tournament, while she noted that their win against Fairmont State was one of the highlights of her career so far. “My favorite memory at West Liberty would have to be beating Fairmont on penalties in the playoffs in my freshman year,” admits Kelly. This win was a little more special for all involved as it was the program’s only home postseason game to date.

Not only has she had a number of memorable moments as part of West Liberty’s Women’s Soccer team, Kelly was recently presented with the opportunity to compete for the university’s women’s golf team. Growing up as an extremely active child, she played a number of sports including traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football and camoghie. Being a talented golf player allowed her to become a dual-athlete at the collegiate level. “I’ve always loved playing golf so I’m grateful for the opportunity to play at such a competitive level,” said Kelly. “The program is definitely improving so I’m looking forward to trying to help the team as much as I can.”

Kelly has adapted to life at West Liberty well and has enjoyed her time at the university, although she admits that living so far away from home does come with some challenges. “Being far from home has its struggles,” said Kelly. “Homesickness is something that is always there and won’t ever fully go away for me. What helps me is thinking about all the great experiences and opportunities I am getting over here and all the great memories I get to make along the way.”

She is currently completing her penultimate semester at the university and will graduate with a degree in microbiology in the fall semester of 2022, after which she hopes to stay in education and gain a masters degree. “My plans after college are to pursue a postgraduate degree in microbiology in Europe,” Kelly said. While most college athletes do not continue to compete after graduation, Kelly has no plans of stopping in the near future. “I would like to think I will always play soccer and golf after I graduate in whatever capacity for as long as I can.”

For more information on Kelly, or to track the progress of both the women’s soccer and golf teams, head to