DURHAM, N.C. – Duke field hockey head coach Pam Bustin and the Blue Devil staff welcomed the addition of seven incoming players to the program for the 2014 campaign. Midfielder Ainsley Gill comes to Duke from Virginia Beach, Va.
Check back to GoDuke.com throughout the coming weeks for profiles on each of the incoming Blue Devils, and be sure to follow the team all year on Twitter and Facebook.
Midfield l Virginia Beach, Va. l Norfolk Academy
Prior to Duke: A product of Virginia Beach, Va., Gill garnered Southern Region All-America and conference player of the year honors as a senior after amassing 18 goals and 30 assists her final season. She finished her career with 45 goals and 75 assists while earning all-state distinction and first team all-conference accolades three times. Gill also brings national-level playing experience as a member of the U.S. U19 and U17 junior national teams and a participant in the U.S. Futures Elite program.
Bustin’s Take: "Ainsley brings much positive energy and versatility to our Duke roster. She is a gifted athlete whose speed and tenacity will add an important dimension to our play. Her solid skills and willingness to do whatever is necessary to help the team succeed will make her a valuable contributor within our roster. Ainsley's healthy perspective towards competition will undoubtedly aid in Duke's ability to embrace and take on any challenge!"
What is your favorite field hockey memory?
AG: My favorite field hockey memory wasn’t from a championship game won or the close win to a rival, although those are always good memories. My favorite memory is a simple scrimmage, which happened at Junior National Camp. We had all met each other only a few days before yet everybody was playing like they wanted to be there and the switching and sprinting was to make each other look better. It was a moment of truly pretty hockey and one I wish to see again.
When did you start playing field hockey?
AG: My PE teacher and current high school and club coach, Mary Werkheiser, first introduced me to field hockey in PE. In third grade she encouraged me to try out for a local club team. Sandy Szilassy, my current club coach, welcomed me with open arms and has been developing my play as well as making me laugh ever since. As the only U12 team in the area, we lost almost every game and were greeted with lots of “awe’s” upon arrival. Needless to say, the majority of that loser U12 team ended up playing at Div. I universities.
Why did you choose Duke?
AG: Duke’s excellent academics attract many aspiring doctors and scholars, but for me the community of personable students as well as professors is what had me hooked on Duke. Whilst visiting classes an English professor noticed I was not a regular student and asked me to introduce myself. After being prodded on what schools I was looking at and why I like Duke she asked if I had any special talents. Before I knew it I was doing a handstand for the entire class, thoroughly embarrassed, and I realized Duke was the place for me.
What are your goals for your collegiate career?
AG: My goal is to utilize every moment with the amazing coaches and players around me. Never take anything for granted and always give 110 percent. I want to make a difference on the Duke field hockey team.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
AG: It may be cliché but my parents. They’ve always supported me in my decisions and have been my biggest fans. My mom still does crossfit, runs, bikes and swims. We have hand stand races and she STILL beats me. I hope to be as fit as her when I’m older. I couldn’t ask for better parents to be there for me every step of the way. They taught me to never give up on my dreams and always encouraged me to do the right thing whether someone was watching or not.
Favorite athlete: Dick Hoyt. Dick is currently 73 years old and has participated in over 70 marathons, over 30 Boston Marathons, six Iron Mans and countless triathlons and smaller races. Dick, however, would never compete alone. Rick Hoyt, Dick’s 52-year-old son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after having complications at birth. Rick asked his father to push him in a charity run when Dick was 36 years old and although he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, he had never been a runner. Seeing the joy on his son’s face inspired Dick to continue competing and they had a special chair built for Rick. They fought for their right to run in the Boston Marathon and led the way for disabled runners. Team Hoyt has inspired many people and put smiles on many disabled children’s faces. Dick and Rick Hoyt are truly an inspiration.
Hobbies: Field hockey (obviously), lacrosse, paddle boarding, stand-up body boarding, water skiing, freeboarding, skiing, fishing, rock climbing, eating, running in races and hanging out with friends.
Favorite movie: Miracle
Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds
Favorite book: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Favorite musician: Luke Bryan
Pre-game ritual/superstition: The night before a game I visualize plays and envision everything perfectly in hope that it will be that way during the game.
What do you plan to major in? Something pre-health, philosophy or evolutionary anthropology.
If you were to play another sport, what would it be? I would like to be a gymnast. I did gymnastics from when I could walk until I was 12 years old and I loved it. The message that girls must be perfect is not ideal but the gymnasts are so strong and they make impossibly hard moves look graceful and easy.
Interesting fact about yourself/Hidden talent: In the summers I am a paddleboard tour guide. I know lots of random facts about oysters and the Chesapeake Bay. I enjoy doing headstands on the paddleboard. I also do not surf on surfboards but enjoy standing on boogie boards.
Best advice you’ve received: “It’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully establishing myself as a pediatric physical therapist. Working with disabled children and helping them learn to do things for themselves. Participating in Team Hoyt and teaming up with a local home for disabled children.
To be a part of the Duke field hockey program is … truly an honor. I have wanted to play field hockey in college since I picked up my first stick in third grade and I am so proud to be a part of the Duke field hockey program.