When Emily Wold was a girl, Mia Hamm was her idol. Of course, Wold wasn’t alone. Millions of children felt the same way when Hamm was in her prime as the face of the U.S. Womens National Soccer Team.
Wold first thought about representing her country in sports by watching Hamm, which was right around the same time she first thought about wearing the Carolina blue of the UNC Tar Heels. As she got older, Wold’s focus switched from soccer to field hockey—but the goals remained the same.
She has accomplished both feats—reaching the collegiate and international levels—as one of the nation’s top field hockey players, but she has one huge goal still in front of her: competing in the Olympics.
She is currently taking the spring term off from the University of North Carolina—something she did once before (in 2013) to train with the national team. Since January, she’s had one thing on her mind: training to make that Olympic roster, which will be revealed this summer. She would love to walk into Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5 for opening ceremonies.
“If I did get to go, it would be amazing,” Wold told HERO Sports. “Everyone who has gone before (to the Olympics) says that’s the best part of it. At the PanAm games, that was amazing. Everybody was chanting together. I can’t imagine what it’d be like with that many more people chanting (in Brazil). So much excitement and emotion. I guess everyone would have those feelings.”
Wold will not tell you she’s a lock to make the team. And yes, the roster competition is fierce, but the truth is she’s one of the most exciting young American talents in the sport. She first played with the full national team as a 17-year old high school student, and she’s been a consistent participant ever since. She was a part of the gold medal team at the 2015 PanAm Games, and she has been on board for other strong international finishes. Just a few months ago, she wrapped up her college career by taking First Team All-American honors—the third time she’s been named to the team during her college career.
She has that special “sixth sense” of a distributor on the field, like chess player thinking two or three moves ahead of the rest of the competition. When she played basketball in high school, she was a point guard—which gives you an idea of what kind of player she is.
“Right now I’m trying to work on my speed, to be quicker and more explosive,” Wold said. “On the international field, I don’t really have any sick skills or crazy tricks, I’m just a stick-to-the-basics type of player.”
Tricks aren’t a huge necessity for the excitement happening in U.S. womens field hockey. Since 1984, neither the womens nor mens programs have captured a medal (women took bronze in ‘84). The women qualified for the Olympics the past two times, and are already qualified for the Olympics this summer in Brazil. The Americans would love to secure the first medal in 32 years.
Wold has 41 appearances with the full national team. She wants to make that final Olympic roster cut, and she wants to be a part of a medal-winning effort. Take into consideration, also, that the Americans went toe-to-toe several times last year with Argentina—the 2012 silver medalists. The PanAm Gold Medal match was a 2-1 victory for the U.S. over its South American field hockey rivals. Holland awaits, of course. The two-time gold medal winning side is at the pinnacle of the sport and has medaled in five straight Olympics. It was the Dutch who knocked off Argentina in the 2012 gold medal match.
Since the last Olympics, the Americans have proven repeatedly they can hang with just about anybody. A medal is a strong possibility when taking into account the past few years of international play. Long-time national team stars like Lauren Crandall and Kelsey Kolojejchick lead the way.
“That’s definitely on our minds,” Wold said. “That’s kind of what we expect of ourselves and there has been progress over the years. It’s a tremendous difference than with years past.”
After this summer—no matter what happens with the roster choice—Wold will head back to North Carolina to finish her degree in Communications. She admits she doesn’t have her whole life mapped out yet—who does at 21 years of age? She could easily be a part of the Olympic talk in 2020 and 2024, as many of her current teammates are some of the team’s top players and they’re in their late 20s. That’s an option, for sure. She’s not sure she’s interested in coaching, but that’d be a long way off, too.
Right now there’s just one thing staring back at her, future wise, and that’s the chance to walk into that stadium … and a chance to one day wear an Olympic medal around her neck.
First things first.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined.”Henry David Thoreau (Wold’s favorite quote, according to her Team USA profile)