By: Greg Levinsky
Each movement is one of acute determination and sound thought. There’s an innocuous swagger coupled with a tangible brilliance in Ally Hammel’s pursuit on field hockey turf.
Aside from a pure love for the game, Hammel also holds sentiment towards the Boston University program itself – a unique respect that fuels her passion each time she throws on the scarlet and white.
“This program has given me so much,” Hammel said. “It’s taught me about myself and who I am as a person and how to be to others and how to treat myself.
“It’s everything to me.”
Heading into her senior season at BU, Hammel has garnered unequivocal success. In her junior campaign alone, the Duxbury native secured NFHCA All-America and All-Patriot League First Team honors as well as the coveted NFHCA Northeast Region and Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. The program captured its second Patriot League Title in Hammel’s three seasons.
So, what’s left?
A first time captain, Hammel craves a third Patriot League tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance. Not only does she want to play in the postseason, she wants to and believes she can lead her team to new heights. Ranked 19th in the NFHCA Preseason Poll, Hammel sees great potential in her team.
“We really want to position ourselves well to go into the NCAA Tournament,” Hammel said. “That’s a huge goal for us.”
The Terriers finished last fall ranked 20th in the nation and saw their NCAA Tournament bid end in the first round to the eventual national champion University of Connecticut. After defeating Fairfield in the play-in round, the Terriers met the overall first-seeded Huskies. BU demonstrated marked improvement as they fell 8-1 in their regular season tilt – in the NCAA Tournament they challenged to a 3-1 decision.
Individually, she simply wants to enjoy her final collegiate season.
“Play with joy, have fun and give it everything I’ve got,” Hammel said.
Head coach Sally Starr begins her 38th year at the helm and credits Hammel’s tenacious dedication as part of her senior co-captain’s success.
“Ally Hammel is the complete package,” Starr said. “She’s tireless with her work ethic, she’s gotten better and better every year.”
Hammel said she’s put in “a lot of extra work”. Whether it be dribbling for 30 minutes straight or methodically painting the corners of the box in practicing her shot, she finds a certain solace on turf.
“I’m weird. I love it,” Hammel said. “I like going out there.”
Hammel switched from forward to back her sophomore year, and has since found a niche that has brought attention of the U.S. National Program. She played for the U.S. Women’s National Development Squad for a test series in Chile in May, an experience that also sparked her.
“I see a different standard and I’m setting a different standard for myself to be like that and compete like that,” Hammel said. “There’s a lot of desire in there.”
Hammel is an offensive weapon as well. She scored seven goals in her freshman season as a forward, and has career totals of 17 goals and seven assists in 64 games donning the scarlet and white. Although she’s now a defender by trade, Hammel brings her hard shot and offensive prowess to penalty corner sets. She scored the first goal of the season in BU’s 4-1 victory over Northeastern on Friday.
“She just thrives in competitive moments.” Starr said. “She’s calm, she’s poised. Her passion for the game is her juice.”
While Hammel’s college career may be winding down, she sees her personal growth as something that will never end.
“There’s no limit,” she said. “If I keep working hard, putting in the hours, we’ll see.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky