DURHAM, N.C. – As the Duke field hockey program commemorates Homecoming Weekend with a reunion in September, GoDuke.com will feature several Blue Devil alumnae to highlight memories from their collegiate careers and the paths they’ve taken to success in their professional fields.
Sarah Urdahl, 2012-15
Urdahl played in 78 contests over four seasons, helping to guide the Blue Devils to the NCAA semifinals twice and the NCAA title match in 2013. A forward hailing from Houston, Texas, she totaled two goals and four assists for eight career points. Urdahl also took 20 corners over the course of her Duke career.
In the classroom, Urdahl excelled as a mechanical engineering major with a minor in French studies while also pursuing a certificate in aerospace engineering. She was a three-year member of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association National Academic Squad and a four-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Since graduating from Duke in 2016, Urdahl has earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech.
Can you update us on where you are now and your role with NASA?
Sarah Urdahl: I live in Los Angeles, California and I work for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Flight System Systems Engineer for the Europa Lander project.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Duke?
SU: My favorite DUFH memory was defeating UNC on their field in shootouts my sophomore season (2013). Emmie Le Marchand scored a goal with 11 seconds left on the clock to tie the game and push us to overtime. I really felt like I was a part of a special team that night. We went on to play for the national championship that season.
What was your favorite spot on campus?
SU: West campus library bridge above the path from Main Quad to the Engineering Quad.
Who were some of your favorite professors at Duke?
SU: Dr. Neal Simmons and Dr. Rebecca Simmons were my professors for quite a few of my engineering classes. I very much appreciated their dedication to teaching us applicable skills for industry as well as providing hands-on engineering experiences. One of my favorite classes was “Engineering Innovation” where you were tasked with finding creative solutions to problems in the moment as a team. The final project was to build a themed Rube Goldberg machine. I convinced the group to do a Duke sports theme and my section involved building a contraption that hit a ball past a UNC goalie diving in the wrong direction.
Favorite food on campus?
SU: I was a big fan of the crepe truck that would come to the Main Quad once a week.
Who was a teammate who influenced you either on or off the field?
SU: I had the privilege of playing with Grace Christus for two seasons. She was a captain my sophomore year when we went to the national championship. I very much appreciated her no-nonsense personality on the field. If you got a compliment from Grace, it was sincere and you knew you were playing good hockey that day.
What advice would you give to current or future Blue Devils?
SU: Invest in relationships during your time at Duke. You’ll leave with a diploma and hopefully some trophies, but true friendships and an established network will continue to reward you over time.