As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The click of a camera cues Emily Wold for action.
Diving on the turf for a photo-finishing touch.
Dodging around a defender with flair.
Ducking into the background of a perfectly positioned selfie with a bold, mischievous grin.
TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer even gave a nod to Wold’s stealthy talent, claiming she won the “gold medal award for the best photo bomber ever.” But it doesn’t stop there.
Wold was able to successfully snap a picture with every country at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Netherlands and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. What started out as a challenge posed by a staff member to snap and share a smile with other international athletes, turned into cultural connections allowing Wold’s undeniable cheerful nature to shine through. But anyone who knows Wold would say this isn’t out of the norm. She accredits her perpetual state of happiness to genetics.
“My mom can walk into the room and make anyone feel an immediate sense of happiness,” said Wold. “Her positiveness is contagious. Over the years, I’ve picked up on that to and try to carry the same mindset with me. I constantly challenge myself to seek the good in everything. Life has so much to offer. Why not be happy?”
Wold’s breezy, laidback personality pairs wells with long standup paddleboard sessions, exploring cozy caffeinated coves and handling an intense amount of pressure that comes with being part of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
The midfielder from Freehold, N.J. isn’t new to the international stage. Joining Team USA in 2013, Wold has helped the team earn gold medals for the USWNT at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada and at the 2014 Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland where she was named Rookie of the Event. She was most recently part of the squad that secured bronze medals at the women’s Hockey Champions Trophy 2016 in London. As an University of North Carolina athlete, she was recognized as a 2015 first-team All-America, received first-team honors three times in her career and, as a result, is the sixth player in program history to be named three or more times. Wold was also the 2015 ACC Championship MVP. She made All-ACC selection in all four years and is just the 13th player in conference history to be a four-time pick and finished her career third on the Tar Heels all-time assists list.
Tracking further back into Wold’s playing portfolio at Freehold Boro High School, she was dubbed a two-time All-America and all-region selection and helped her team to two state titles. She holds school records career goals, career assists and most goals in a season. In her earlier days of competing in grade school, Wold started wearing jersey number 9 because of her soccer idol Mia Hamm. Switching from soccer to hockey, she kept the same number through college in honor of UNC alum, USWNT athlete and Olympian, Rachel Dawson. Dawson allowed her number to come out of retirement so the promising talent would be able rock 9 on the back of her jersey.
“I obviously thought so highly of her,” said Wold. “To me she was the face of field hockey. At one of my Junior High Performance practices, Rachel showed up and I was star struck and asked her to sign my shin guard. There’s still no shame behind it. It’s unbelievably cool to be how we’re teammates now.”
A family forged through a common passion and goal training at the most elite level of the sport has an addictive quality that, to this day, still holds Wold’s attention and heart.
“Playing field hockey at this level gives you this intense natural adrenaline rush that isn’t comparable to anything else out there,” said Wold. “That alone is enough to keep me coming back for more.”
And the USWNT is a stronger program because of the dedicated individuals like Wold lay it all out on competition day and every other day in between.