Boulder’s Famous Sporting Sons
The city of Boulder is famous for a great many things, not least some of our sporting heroes.
The city is surrounded by thousands of acres of recreational space, which has seen some high-profile sportspeople learn their trade before going on to bigger and better things. We’ve also got strong college teams, with ESPN reporting that the Colorado Buffaloes recently reached the semifinal of the Pac-12 Conference tournament. Of those players, some might just make it big, joining the famous faces we already count as our own.
Some were born here; they walked the streets in their youth and imbued the Boulder spirit to take with them on their sporting travels. Others have moved here, adopting our slice of America for themselves, and in doing so brought sporting glory with them.
Who are these famous people, what did they do, and who did they do it with? Here are four of Boulder‘s famous sons who have made our city proud.
Tony Boselli is a former offensive tackle with the Jacksonville Jaguars, although he also had a short spell with the Houston Texans. He spent his youth here, attended USC and was drafted second pick in the 1995 draft. He made history by being the first-ever draft pick of the new Jaguars franchise. How the Jaguars could do with him now; they’re almost always rank outsiders for success, and they are in the bottom four in the football odds on Ladbrokes looking ahead to Super Bowl LVII next year. However, such was the excitement when he signed; local burger outlets started selling the Boselli Burger in his honor! He is a five-time Pro-Bowl player and a source of pride in Colorado and Florida, where he now resides.
Shane O’Neill wasn’t born in the US; he’s an Irish soccer player who came to Boulder after his father, All-Ireland winning Cork Gaelic footballer Colm O’Neill, won a green card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery program. Local soccer fans were delighted he did; O’Neill signed for the Rapids when he hit 18, playing 58 MLS matches. He had spells abroad, with Apollon Limassol, NAC Breda and Cambridge United, before joining Seattle in 2020. He appeared 45 times for the Sounders and has been capped by the USMNT up to Under 23 level. He recently joined Toronto, who are among the outsiders for MLS success. We love an underdog team here in Boulder!
Eagle Wynne McMahon
If O’Neill and Boselli represent outsiders, then McMahon is a true world champion born right here in Boulder. He is a professional disc golfer, ranked number one in the world. Disc golf is based on normal golf, but players have a disc to throw at a target instead of a club and a tee. It might not sound conventional, but there are more than 71,000 active members of the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) worldwide. McMahon has won more than 50 events, including the Konopiste Open and National Tour Series in 2018.
Hasselbeck is another who grew up in Boulder and ascended to the NFL. Curiously, he also played in Seattle just like O’Neill, although he was also on the books of the Packers, Titans and Colts. He was a three-time Pro-Bowl player in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He now lives in Weston, Massachusetts, and has worked for ESPN as a color commentator. Oddly, both him and his wife, Sarah, have been struck by lightning.