DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The North Georgia College & State University mixed rifle team received "an early Christmas" this past week as volunteer coach JP O'Connor donated close to $15,000 in equipment and funds to the program.
"It is always a pleasure to support the rifle team," said O'Connor. "Tori and her student-athletes work hard, compete well and are wonderful representatives of the university. Athletic Director Lindsay Reeves and her staff have done an excellent job in support of the program, as has Col. Tom Palmer and his staff. With strong and continuous university support and action to develop and grow the intercollegiate rifle team, I know that donations are very much appreciated and will be put to excellent and effective use."
O'Connor, who has experience coaching Olympic rifle and pistol target shooting, coached the North Georgia team since it was a club in 2006 on a part time basis prior to stepping aside prior to the start of the 2011-12 season. He has had great experience at multiple levels in coaching the sport from high school on up to the professional levels.
He donated $13,000 worth of gear including three smallbore rifles, 10 sight sets, several adjustable rear apertures with color filters and polarized lenses and several other items that the team was in need of along with a $2,000 check.
North Georgia's Director of Athletics Lindsay Reeves along with Col. Tom Palmer with the Corps of Cadets were both on hand during the presentation.
Current head coach Tori Kostecki, who trained under O'Connor at both the high school and collegiate level, was very appreciative for the help to her continunally-growing program. "It was certainly an early Christmas present for us," stated Kostecki shortly after being presented with the check and gear. "We are very grateful to JP for everything he has done and continues to do for the rifle team here at North Georgia. It goes beyond just the physical things he has presented and we are very gracious for his support and help."
O'Connor managed the rifle team starting in 2006 as well as the nationally-ranked intercollegiate pistol team from 2007 through 2010. He was aided by student-athletes on both squads to run the day-to-day operations, including several he trained in high school, as his day job of designing and building analytical databases sometimes kept him busy away from the rifle range.
When coaching rifle, he specializes in applied sports psychology and helping athletes learn to thrive and compete well under pressure. His students have gone on to compete at the World Cup, World Championships as well as in the Olympics. He has also run numerous competitions, clinics and training sessions across the country including at the US Army Marksmanship Unit and Olympic Training Center located in Colorado Spring, Colo.