Last Friday, while the kids are off to school, I had the pleasure of speaking with U.S. Field Hockey talent Ali Campbell. She is sweet and personable. Which is not what you would expect after watching this force battle it out on the field. Campbell plays, in my opinion, one of the toughest sports in field hockey. From my initial question through my final one, you can tell the passion that Campbell has for a sport.
Developing a child in field hockey takes time and Campbell’s mom started her daughter out young. She began by placing her in a kid’s league in 2nd grade. From there the humble Campbell played and furthered her playing career by playing in middle school and high school. She was able to play on a club team and was recruited to the University of Maryland. She has been a part of the Junior National Team as well as the National Indoor Team.
I asked Campbell about the bond that college athletes create. The question was inspired by not just my experience but seeing some of my college friends who played on the field hockey team 10+ years ago, who still get together and share life moments. She said, “You are part of one big family, you create a lasting bond”. She finished the thoughtful sentiment with “Ultimately you care about them so much”. It’s that kind of mentality that winning teams are founded on, it builds trust and fosters their talents.
We also chatted about the teams drive for 2020 in Tokyo. After a disappointing last place finish in London in 2012 and a 5th place finish in Rio this past year what did she see for 2020? Most people would say a gold and that they would not settle for less than the that. Campbell however took an approach of a true athlete who loves her sport. “We try to always be on the up and up (in terms of keeping winning momentum)”. “We are working day in and day out to finish above 5th place”, she added. What speaks volumes about her work ethic, if not the entire teams is that “Ultimately we want to stay present, have the best outcomes. What is really important is to push forward.”
When asked about her family’s role in her success, you could feel the love in her voice. As though this was a special question she was more than happy to answer. She noted how “extremely important they are to her success” and that when she needs to let it out “they just listen and take it all in”. She ended that question with the sweet sentiment of “I can’t thank them enough to being there to support me”.
We also got to talk about one of the athletes that inspired her Carrie Lingo. Lingo, former U.S. Women’s National Team and Olympic Bronze Medalist. Campbell who had her own battle with injury saw what Lingo had endured in her playing career. Campbell was able to see how Lingo had “powered through adversity”. That spoke to Campbell in such an influential way and knew that she could do it too.
It was time for one of my favorite questions that I got to ask Campbell. What advice she could give to young girls who are aspiring female athletes. Those girls that want to follow their dreams and turn pro eventually. Her words resonate feeling of empowerment, “Know there is no limit to your powerfulness”. She added “They (young girls) are enough to be the best they can be.”
As the interview came to an end, I asked a question about the geography of field hockey. The area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Upstate New York seem to be hotbed of female athletes. Most notably Pennsylvania’s contribution to field hockey. You could feel Campbell’s passion and excitement around this question as PA is her home state. “Pennsylvania is a hot bed for hockey. My mom played field hockey here.” She added “There are just a lot of places to go around here and play hockey”. We ended the interview. I have a strong feeling though in a few years I am going to be interviewing her with an Olympic Medal around her neck!