Stay active, Stay healthy, Stay in Lacey
Meet your neighbor, Robin O’Brien
The time was 1974 when Robin O’Brien brought her family to Lacey township, from Oakland, New Jersey to be near friends and the New Jersey shore. They had already known and stayed on LBI in a family summer cottage but for year-round living Lacey provided what she wanted for her 2 children.
In 1976, with both children in school, it was time to go back to work. That opportunity presented itself at Forked River Elementary School, first as a playground aid and later as a library assistant. Little did she know that thirty-one years later, she would be retiring from the same school. While her children were in Lanoka Harbor School, she was active in the PTA and continued to be a volunteer in their schools until they graduated. Robin was the founder and charter president of the PTA in both the Lacey Middle School and Lacey High School. Additionally, she volunteered with the Girl Scouts and coached girls’ softball.
Robin was an avid volley ball player in Oakland and missed the recreational sport.
In 1975 she organized the first women’s recreational volleyball group. They played in the Forked River School gym and later moved to Mill Pond School under the recreation department. They now play in the Lacey Middle School as a co-ed group during the winter months.
In 1988, Robin grabbed the next opportunity to start an informal mixed open doubles tennis group. It continues to this day. On good weather Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings, check out the tennis courts at Gille Park and you will see 50 to 80-year old’s having fun. Though it is not age restricted, it is mostly seniors playing, laughing, enjoying time with their friends, staying healthy and active.
Robin has been an organizer, participant and advocate for staying active in Lacey Township. She believes in encouraging others to play and supports them as a teacher and an informal coach.
Spending time in Florida during the winters, she was introduced to the new sport taking the country by storm called pickleball. No grass grows under this girls’ feet. In 2013 she was at the recreation director’s door asking him to bring the sport to Lacey.
Pickleball is now a very popular sport played at the Middle School in the spring and fall under the recreation department and in the summers at Gille Park, where Robin is the organizer. These are informal and friendly games. She encourages everyone to try a new physical activity as a great way to stay healthy, connected to others and have fun in their own community. In addition to exercise, pickleball is a social time, meeting new people and talking and laughing together as a group.
Robin’s organizational efforts brought her to the attention of the United States Pickleball Association and she serves as the ambassador for Lacey Township. Her job is to promote and organize, give instructions and participate. Thanks to her efforts, Lacey was one of the first towns in the area to introduce the sport of pickleball. Recreational pickleball has a 60-member list with an average of 18-20 players coming out to Gille Park on Monday and Thursday evenings.
Robin, at age 77, plays pickleball 5-6 days a week. She participated in the New Jersey Senior Olympic Games for pickleball in 2014 and 2016 garnering silver and bronze medals and qualifying for the National Senior Olympics.
You might think this would be enough for one person, but not if you know Robin. She is an active, vibrant person, who plays a significant role in many other organizations in our township. She is a twelve- year member of the Municipal Alliance, ten years with Rutgers University Master Gardeners of Ocean County, and six years of involvement with the Women’s Club of Lacey dedicated to making a difference. Other activities include: being an elder at the Forked River Presbyterian Church and a volunteer with Mandorla.
Y-Move wishes to congratulate Robin for her continued dedication and support of the residents of Lacey Township. She demonstrates staying healthy, active and involved in activities both recreational and supportive. She contributes to making Lacey Township an age-in-place friendly community that cares about its senior citizens.