In a lineup of professional athletes, her 5’9” stature coupled with a lean, toned build may suggest basketball or volleyball as her sport of choice.
Well, at first, it was.
Appearing a natural fit for slamming a ball over a net raised 7’4” above the gym floor, Blazing applied her genetics and gift of game to volleyball. Despite having the ideal frame for the sport, Blazing’s heart wasn’t there. Looking for an alternative, Blazing pulled from her memory one of the many backyard games she played in her neighborhood with friends. Not fully enamored by volleyball, her current fall sport at the time, Blazing signed up for field hockey, thinking it probably had the same feel as her former childhood game, street hockey. With a vague correlation seeded in her adolescence and the itch to constantly keep in motion came a decision that would take hold of Blazing’s life and shake it from the ground up.
As a goalkeeper, she would go on to be a 4-year letter winner and 4-time team MVP at Durham Academy; where she was also named all-conference in each season. In her senior year, she earned the distinction of conference player of the year. On top of her field hockey accolades, Blazing was also a 3-year letter winner in basketball, garnering team defensive MVP recognition her final two seasons and all-league honors as a senior.
The Durham, N.C. native impressively owned her domain in the cage in high school, which resulted in attention from several college coaches. When leaving the high school scene, Blazing was picked up by Duke University where she became a 4-year starter in goal and collected honors such as three-time All-American and first team honors as a senior. She also guided the Blue Devils to a pair of NCAA semifinals appearances, including a trip to the title match in 2013. Located in Duke’s forward line was another point of pride, her sister Robin.
“In our free time in high school, we would hop the fence to get to the goal cage,” said Blazing. “She would take shots on me while I worked on my saves. We did the same thing in college too, training together like that. It’s so cool to watch her grow throughout the years.”
Competing with her best friend and younger sister was the icing on Blazing’s collegiate
“We’re so close and similar,” said Blazing. “She’s driven and dedicated in school and on the field. I try to emulate her work ethic, the way she gives 100 percent in everything she does. We feed off each other in that regard.”
Paired with her college accomplishments, Blazing also contributed to the success of the Junior High Performance on the international stage at the Junior World Cup and Junior Pan American Games.
Blazing officially joined the senior U. S. Women’s National Team the summer of 2014. Although she was an alternate for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada where the team took gold and won their berth to the Rio Olympic Games, Blazing received her first cap in early 2016 in Chula Vista when the team contended against Canada.
“Putting on the USA jersey is such an awesome feeling,” said Blazing. “It’s a huge honor to represent our country and see all the work I put in come to fruition.”
To say her involvement in athletics has influenced her life goals is burying the ball into the backboard; spot on.
“When I’m done with playing hockey which could be 4 years from now, 8 years from now or I could be 86 years old still playing, I’d like to pursue law school with a focus in civil rights and Title IX,” said Blazing.
Field hockey even played a part in this choice.
“I’ve been so fortunate to take part in great athletic programs that wouldn’t be available to us if people had not stood up and fought for everyone’s right to play,” said Blazing. “It’s still relevant. It’s a sad social fact that men’s teams are making more money than women’s sports.”
“It’s important for young girls to get chances to participate in sport,” said Blazing. “I saw this first hand through playing and coaching in USA Field Hockey’s Futures program. You make friends and gain confidence. Character building through sport is important for society.”
When she finally does put down the hockey stick, it’s typical for her to pickup a guitar. She began playing in college, as a different way to spend her free time against the demands of school work and hockey as something non-competitive, a passion without the pressure. Blazing is trying to make this hobby a team affair.
In fact, a few Team USA athletes may be forming a band of sorts dubbed the Lancaster Locals.
“I don’t know if everyone knows they’re in it, but they’re all in it,” said Blazing, chuckling. “Alesha Widdall and Jill Witmer are holding down lead vocals. Ali Froede on the tambourine/percussion, Alyssa Manley on guitar but she’s still learning chords and then there’s Loren Shealy on the ukulele. She’s actually pretty good at that now. Katie Bam may be another vocalist or general manager.”
“We might just drop it to The Locals when we hit it big.”
Although their first EP hasn’t quite dropped, the bond Blazing has forged with her teammates in undeniable.
“Being surrounded by the nation’s best athletes which happen to be some of the best people I’ve ever known is something I appreciate every single day,” said Blazing. “We’re a family, united by a common goal and to be part of something this big is indescribable."
**Be sure to visit Teamzila's Chasing the Dream campaign apparel and souvenir book by clicking here.**