Tag Archives: USA Field Hockey

From HS to college and college to the national team – transitions in the game

Field hockey, no matter the level, is such a skilled game that is always changing and evolving. I think that is what initially attracted me to the sport. I see it as a cross between Ice Hockey and Soccer, two sports that I had grown up watching and playing almost all my life. When I started playing in 7th grade for my mom’s club team “Chix With Stix Field Hockey” I focused less on trying to push myself to be better and more on just being in the moment and having fun with my friends. I didn’t really understand that there was a possibility I could play in college or beyond, I always strictly thought about playing Ice Hockey.

Joining the Duxbury High School varsity field hockey team as a freshman, I remember being completely shocked by the speed and the skill that some of my upperclassmen possessed. We had a couple girls committed to top tier Division I and Division III programs. A couple of the girls also played for my club team, HTC Field Hockey, so as a group, we would do private lessons together with my club coach. I was in awe of these players, watching them use 3D skills to beat a defender and then line up for a reverse chip with such ease. My edgy, but at the time of my freshman season, one dimensional game had been completely shaken up. For me, seeing what it took to play in college was slightly daunting, but a challenge I was more than willing to accept.

USA Field Hockey Team in Action

Throughout my four years in high school, I absorbed all the skills I could possibly take in, watching hours and hours of international game footage. I spent long days with my club coaches, trying to turn my one dimensional game into a three dimensional, dynamic, tactical and aggressive game that would allow me to succeed in college. I began my journey, committing to Boston University and then joining the squad one year later. Despite my hard work and thorough preparation, I quickly realized that no matter what, you will never truly understand the game and be able to adapt to it until you’re stuck in the middle of it.

The pace is faster. The players are bigger and stronger. Everyone possesses the same skills and game sense that you do, but now they can execute these skills perfectly all while running at their top speed. I remember sitting at the field asking myself “how do you set yourself apart?” For me this was a huge lesson that I would have to learn, not only for college but for playing at the next level on the US Women’s National Team. Tactically, I had to understand every press that we would use, how to set up in different situations based on what I saw in front of me and so much more. I learned that fitness, strength, nutrition and sleep were just as important as understanding a skill or what was happening on the field. I quickly began to understand that flexibility with what my coaches needed from me was key. My freshman season I was forward, but after that year we needed a center back, so my role changed. I had to learn a whole new skills set to be ready for the following season, and that’s what I did. Throughout my college career, I learned that the tangibles were important, but the intangibles, like being coachable and open to new opportunities in front of you, was equally if not more important.

My U.S. and college careers have largely been intertwined, as I joined the U.S. Development Squad during the summer going into my junior season at Boston University. Joining the Development squad and eventually, the Women’s National Team showed me just how competitive field hockey can be. Each player is different and brings their own spin and style to the game, but despite this we are essentially the same. We have been the best players on every team we have ever played on, dominating in college and beyond. Nevertheless, the game continues to become faster. Every country we play against on the international stage has a different style of play, which can include a different pressing style, a structure that allows them to play through the midfield or down the sideline. Maybe they constantly use aerials to get the ball down the field, or maybe not. Each country brings something different and new to the table, and we always need to be ready for it. The U.S. plays a fast, forward game that is very aggressive with major emphasis on having a front foot mentality. We will fight tooth and nail to win the ball and get it in the cage. It’s a style that is unique to the U.S. and truly gives us an edge.

It is amazing to see the evolution of the game over time. In the beginning, you see it as very one dimensional. I focused on having fun with my friends and learning something new. As I understood more about the game and my love grew, my game also grew becoming more three dimensional with added variables that pushed me to become the player I am today. I am still growing and changing with the times because even today the game has not stopped growing. To continue to compete at such a high level, you must change and evolve with it, being open to new tactical or technical skills that might come along. As I said before, the task might be daunting but believe me, looking back it will be one of the greatest journeys of your life. For me, I will always be proud of the moment I picked up a stick and said “bring it on”.

AllyHammel #21
USA Field Hockey Defender
GryphonTaboo Blue Steel Pro

AllyHammel #21
USA Field Hockey Defender
GryphonTaboo Blue Steel Pro

Julia Young USA Field Hockey Sponsored Player

Get to Know Longstreth Sponsored Field Hockey Player Julia Young

As female athletes, we all have a passion for our sport. Unfortunately, injuries are often part of the game. Longstreth Field Hockey recently sat down with USA National Team Defender, Julia Young to discuss her recent injury and recovery. Her positive attitude and mental strength are inspiring.

Julia Young USA Field Hockey Sponsored Player

Julia tore her ACL, medial meniscus, and sprained her MCL during the Pan American Cup last summer. She had ACL reconstruction surgery using a patellar tendon graft and a meniscus repair. Luckily, her MCL was able to heal on her own. Doctors think she’ll be able to be back on the field sometime in May.

“The hardest part of recovery so far was the first week,” Julia told us, “The pain was the worst I had ever felt and I honestly had no idea how I was going to get through it mentally.” The following month was frustrating, learning to navigate around on crutches and depending on others for help. “My recovery schedule is crazy – going to physical therapy 3 times a week and have at-home exercises. I also do upper body lifts 3 times a week and watch all the team practices.”

Team USA field hockey players and coaches have supported Julia throughout her challenging journey. They’ve continued to keep her involved. “The supportive team culture has helped me a lot getting through the mental challenges of this injury,” said Julia, “and makes me feel like I’m still out on the field with them every day.”

When faced with an injury that keeps you on the sideline for a while, it’s important to stay mentally tough. Julia suggests to give yourself time and don’t get discouraged if you are not healing as quickly as you’d hope. “Your body can do amazing things, but you have to give it time to heal,” advises Julia.

We asked Julia what she is most excited about once she is fully recovered. Julia says she can’t wait to get out on the field and be competitive again, and practice every day with her team mates. “You don’t realize how much you love to compete and play, until you can’t.” We wish Julia a quick, healthy recovery and can’t wait to see her playing field hockey again.

Longstreth Sporting Goods is proud to sponsor many of the U.S. Women’s National Team players. Visit the Longstreth Sporting Goods website to learn more about our sponsored Field Hockey players.

Get to Know Longstreth Sponsored Field Hockey Player Ali Froede

Ali Froede, a Longstreth Sporting Goods sponsored player, recently did a Q&A session with us on her experience at FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals. Froede has been a member of the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team since 2015, where she plays defense. She attended Miami University of Ohio, and while there, was awarded First-Team All MAC twice, as well as NFHCA All-West Region Second Team in 2014.

Sponsored Field Hockey Player Ali Froede

First things first, we had to know what her top three favorite moments on the trip were in regards to hockey, and playing in the tournament. She replied that her favorite memory was, of course, winning! She elaborated and said, “This was the first time we have ever won a quarterfinal game – let alone make it to the finals and win.” Her second favorite moment was the thrill of her first major tournament. She said that South Africa was a lot of fun to play in, and that the environment itself was great. Lastly, she recalled that one day at practice two boys were standing at the fence watching them. She said that the team then invited them to play around, and also gave them USA pinnies and sticks, which the boys were super excited about.

We were also curious as to how the team moved past the losses to Argentina and South Africa. We wanted to know if it made things more difficult, or if it made them work even harder. Froede explained that losing to Argentina was not as bad as losing to South Africa. She gave her reasoning when she said, “One, they were the host nation so with that brought a huge supportive crowd that made themselves heard. Two, we felt that we could have definitely won that game, but let exterior factors inhibit us from playing our game – like the refs and the crowd.” In order for the team to get back on track, Froede said, “As a team, we came together and got back to our basics. We are constantly focused on ‘doing our jobs’ – a staple we often remind ourselves to do, and we started playing UN1TED, which ultimately started us in the direction of the finals.”

Many new players have been added to the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team, and we were curious how that affected their game. Froede said, “A focus of the tournament was learning how to play together with new faces. As one of the newer players, it was a great experience to play so many games and gain confidence in myself and my skills on the field.”

There are a bunch of neat things to see in South Africa, that you can’t typically see here, so we wanted to know what fun adventures the team went on while they were there. Froede said that on the last day they were in South Africa, they got to go to a lion park. “My favorite was playing [with] and petting the baby lions!” said Froede. “They were so cute and fluffy, and it was amazing getting to touch an animal you normally don’t get to see that close! We also got to feed giraffes, see zebras, wild dogs, and wildebeests. It was a great way to end the trip.”

As the Pan American Cup approaches, we wanted to know what the team has learned from this experience in order to have further success in Pan Ams. Froede graciously responded, “We learned that we perform our best when we focus on our individual jobs, and play together and UN1TED. Going into the PAC we are going to take one game at a time and focus on our jobs for the moment.” Although playing in South Africa was fun, Froede is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd for the Pan Ams.

Longstreth Sporting Goods would like to congratulate the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team on their extraordinary win in the FIH World Hockey League Semi-Finals, and wish them further success in the Pan American Cup. Visit the Longstreth Sporting Goods website to learn more about our sponsored Field Hockey players.