In the world of sports, you often see a lot of power couples. Fit and attractive athletes are able to date and marry equally attractive people – celebrities, models, corporate powerhouses, entrepreneurs, and fellow athletes. There’s Gerard Pique and Shakira, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Perry Edwards, Alex Morgan and Servando Carrasco, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, and of course, our star for this post: Kealia Ohai and J.J. Watt.
With the recent news of the Ohai and Watt engagement, the NFL preseason starting in less than two months, and the ongoing Women’s World Cup boosting female athletes into the limelight, we thought a feature on US NWSL Houston Dash Midfielder Kealia Ohai was just the thing we need.
Who is Kealia Ohai?
Here are the fast facts on this American soccer star:
Date of Birth: January 31, 1992 (27 years old)
Place of Birth: Draper, Utah, United States
Height: 5ft 5in / 165cm
Occupation: Soccer player
Current Team and position: Houston Dash midfielder / forward
Family Members: Parents Ben and Cindy Ohai, and three sisters: Megan, Cambria, and Aubrey.
But we know that’s not all you want to know about her. So here are 5 interesting facts about Kealia Ohai that you should know – before we get into her soccer career, of course!
1. Her Hawaiian name is thanks to her father.
Her father, Ben Ohai, is a native Hawaiian. On first glance, you’d probably guess that Kealia was born and raised on the islands too but she’s actually a native Utahn. Kealia was named after a beach on the island of Kauai. She once told USSoccer.com in an interview that she used to be embarrassed about her unique name as a kid because hardly anyone could pronounce it correctly. Since then though, she has learned to love it and ask people who are struggling to ‘just call [her] K’.
In case you, too, were struggling, her name is pronounced: kay-ə-LEE-ə.
2. She had a decorated high school soccer career.
When you learn more about Kealia’s soccer performance in high school, it becomes clear why she’s managed to make a full-blown soccer career for herself.
She attended Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, from 2006-2010, spending all four years as a varsity soccer player. While there, her school team went on to win four straight state soccer championships. She was also part of the state’s youth team – the Utah Avalanche – and with them, won four state titles.
Her individual accomplishments include: two-time Gatorade state player of the year, three-time first-team high school All-American, three-time All-State selection, three-time 5A soccer MVP, 2010 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year, and Parade All-American honors in June 2010.
That is unquestionably, pretty darn impressive for a high schooler!
3. She’s blind in one eye.
Yup, she’s actually legally blind in her right eye. Imagine having limited vision and still achieving all that she has on the soccer field! That just makes it all the more jaw-dropping.
According to Cheat Sheet, when Kealia was 6 years old, she was diagnosed with severe astigmatism which causes blurred vision. In order to regain strength in her vision, she wore an eye patch over her left eye – her good eye and the side that she favored. However, she was just a kid and her classmates constantly teased her about the eye patch. She stopped using it and her right eye never regained its strength.
While losing your vision can be a devastating thing, Kealia doesn’t let it limit her. In an interview with ESPN W, she admits that it does have its consequences on the field. Her depth perception is skewed which sometimes affects her ability to finish, and she has difficulty tracking a ball over her right shoulder. She sometimes needs to squint and experiences headaches in situations that strain her eyesight, as well. However, she brushes it off.
“I think because I was so young when it happened, I kind of figured out how to live with it.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to let a seemingly impassable obstacle limit your potential.
4. Her sister Megan is also an NFL WAG.
Well, a former NFL WAG, at least. Kealia’s older sister, Megan Ohai, is married to former Houston Texans linebacker, Brian Cushing. Cushing was released after the 2017 season but is still with the Texans – this time as their Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach.
Megan and Brian met and started dating while in college, and have been together ever since. They married in 2012 and now have two gorgeous sons: Cayden (born 2012) and Kai (born 2014).
5. Athleticism runs in the family.
There’s not a lot of information about Cambria and Aubrey, though it’s obvious from their personal Instagram accounts that they like to stay fit. However, Megan and Kealia run a fitness blog together and are both sensational soccer players.
On their blog, they post general fitness tips, gym workouts, and special exercises for women undergoing maternity and post-maternity. We know about Kealia’s soccer achievements, but Megan was also a star in her own right while in college. She attended USC and played for the women’s soccer team, winning a national title in 2007. Megan maintains her athleticism by regularly working out and is currently the General Manager at Barry’s Boot Camp in Houston, an intensive fitness studio.
Kealia Ohai – Soccer Career
After an impressive start to her soccer career in high school, she continued to make a name for herself in college. She decided not to follow her sister to USC and instead attended the University of North Carolina to study journalism and mass communication. While there, she played with the women’s soccer team, the Tar Heels, as a starter for all 4 years.
In her freshman year, Kealia was named to the first-Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and ACC All-Freshmen Team. That same year, she led the team with 14 goals. In her sophomore year, she started in all 20 of the games she played, scored 6 goals – 3 of which were game-winning – and served 6 assists. In her junior year, she once again led the team with 23 points and 9 goals. When the Tar Heels won a championship in 2012, she was named the tournament’s most outstanding offensive player because she scored the game-winning goal in overtime during the semi-finals and the first goal of the final match – within the first two minutes of the game.
In the 2014 NWSL College Draft, Kealia was the second overall pick, drafted by the Houston Dash. She has remained with the team since then and became team captain halfway through the 2016 season. This may also be her best season so far, as she had a scoring streak of 11 goals in 10 games. The season closed out with her tied with Lynn Williams (of North Carolina Courage) for the Golden Boot award but did not win because Williams had more assists.
In 2017, she suffered a torn ACL and missed most of the season. She was able to recover and come back in April 2018 and scored 5 goals in 19 games.
Kealia has also excelled some on the international stage as well, though there’s still a ways for her to go. She was a part of the US national team youth programs for U-15 U-17, U-20, and U-23 teams. While playing with the US U-20 Women’s National Team in the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she scored the game-winning goal in the 44th minute of the final against Germany – the only goal that Germany conceded in the entire league.
She made her debut with the senior team in 2016 in a friendly. She came on as a substitute in the 81st minute and scored after just 48 seconds, setting the record for the fastest goal in a USWNT debut. In July 2018, after recovering from her injury, she received a call-up for the USWNT training camp for the 2018 Tournament of Nations. Unfortunately, she didn’t make the final roster.
Hopefully, there will still be more chances for Kealia to show her skills in the international women’s soccer arena!
Kealia’s Relationship with J.J. Watts
Kealia and her now-fiancé JJ Watt have known each other for years – thanks to her sister Megan and her husband, Brian Cushing. Cushing and Watt were former teammates for the Houston Texans, so it makes perfect sense that they first became good friends as Megan and Brian got together.
The dating rumors about Kealia and JJ first started sometime in 2016. They finally confirmed them to the public in later 2016/early 2017. Since then, they have both been very open about their relationship on their respective social media accounts.
In May 2019, Kealia Ohai and JJ Watt finally got engaged. No official announcement on when the wedding will happen, but we’re definitely watching out for it!