DURHAM, N.C. – Since competing with the Blue Devils during the fall of 2016, former Duke forward Aisling Naughton has gone on to earn a spot on Ireland’s senior women’s national team.
Her first cap with the squad came in the summer of 2016, prior to joining the Blue Devils for one season as a graduate student. The Dublin, Ireland native was a National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-South Region first team and All-ACC second team selection in her lone season at Duke. She ranked second on the team in goals (12) and points (29) and helped the Blue Devils capture the 2016 ACC regular season title and advance to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.
GoDuke.com recently caught up with Naughton to learn more about her training and continuing her playing career.
GoDuke.com: Catch us up on your post-Duke life since graduating from the Fuqua School of Business!
Aisling Naughton: Since finishing up with Duke field hockey and graduating from Fuqua I have returned home to Dublin, Ireland where I have been training with the Irish national team. I was working for a while until recently I decided to focus solely on hockey for the upcoming months. In September I will start working in KPMG doing Management Consultancy.
GoDuke.com: What does your selection to the Irish national team mean to you?
Naughton: Representing the Irish team is a huge honour. As a young girl I always dreamt of playing for the Senior Irish Women's Team and when I finally gained my first cap I was overwhelmed with emotions. Definitely my proudest moment. It’s a culmination of years of hard-work and perseverance.
GoDuke.com: Describe what it’s like to play at the international level and the amount of training you put in.
Naughton: Competing at the international level is incredibly demanding yet hugely rewarding. We train every day barring Fridays, and because hockey is not a professional sport in Ireland most of the team work 9-6 pm jobs.
An example of our weekly schedule would be:
Monday - Club Training
Tuesday - Gym, Conditioning and Technical Training
Wednesday - Regional Training
Thursday - Gym, Conditioning, Technical Training and Club Training
Saturday- Club Game
Sunday- National Training
However, the hard work is absolutely worth it when you get to pull on the green jersey and sing the national anthem. Playing against some of the best teams in the world is also pretty satisfying.
The training also consists of travelling to play some international matches. We were in England last month playing a three-match series vs Great Britain and prior to that in February we were in Spain for a four-match series.
As the World Cup gets closer, our training schedule intensifies so the upcoming few months will see an increase in training and matches. At present there is a 28-player squad which will be cut down to 18 to travel to the World Cup in London in July.
GoDuke.com: What are the team’s goals for the World Cup this summer in London?
Naughton: Our team goals for the World Cup are to go all the way and win some medals. We are in a group with USA, England and India so it’s a very strong group but it will be great to play such strong teams at the group stages, as we will be prepared for the tough games later on during the business end of the tournament.
GoDuke.com: Looking back on your time at Duke, what did the experience mean to you?
Naughton: My experience at Duke was just fantastic. From meeting so many outgoing, enthusiastic, intelligent and diverse classmates from all around the world to playing on one of the best hockey programs in the country and winning the regular season ACC title, I really had a brilliant year.
Being a Blue Devil is a very unique experience; I enjoyed every minute of it (especially the weather). Beating and scoring against UNC and going to a few Duke basketball games in Cameron are some of my very fond memories.
However, my experience at Duke wouldn't have been the same without Coach Pam Bustin and Assistant Dean Steve Misuraca from Fuqua. They were instrumental in my overall experience at Duke. Once I landed in Durham they both made me feel like I had arrived at my second home both on the pitch and in the classroom.
I can't wait to go back soon!