Chasing The Dream with USWNT Athlete Ali Campbell

March 02, 2016, 11:52 a.m. (ET)
As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.


On the first day of regeneration after an entire month of intense training at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center with Team USA, Ali Campbell doesn’t have her feet propped up in full relaxation mode.

She’s on the move.

The perfect counter-top won’t pick itself out, after all. From kitchen counters to wedding center pieces to gourmet dishes with a personal touch, Campbell’s, formerly McEvoy, final months of Olympic preparation have been filled to the brim with productivity on and off the pitch.

“I love to watch things transform,” said Campbell. “Whether it’s interior design or a plate of food, I love seeing how it all comes together. So my husband and I are cooking all of the time and taking on home projects ourselves. The process is almost as great as the finished product.”

The Campbell’s move into their new house, only 10 minutes away from the Home of Hockey at Spooky Nook Sports, April 1.

“Once we get the keys, there is no holding back,” Campbell laughed.

Perhaps that is one of Campbell’s strongest qualities: her go-getter spirit. This way of thinking was put to the ultimate test in high school when Campbell suffered from not one, but two ACL tears, threatening to cut her hockey career short.

“When I tore my second ACL, I had to take control of my mindset,” said Campbell. “I told myself that I'll come back stronger than ever, that I’ll be an even better athlete than before. I believed that and made it happen.”

Campbell not only pulled from an endless well of inspiration within herself, but she also looked to Olympian and former U.S. Women’s National Team athlete Carrie Lingo who underwent several knee surgeries to make a success recovery and get back on the pitch.

“I thought she was the coolest person ever when I first met her,” said Campbell. “Hearing she was able to overcome her knee problems and go on to becoming an Olympian gave me the thought that, ‘yeah, I can do this too.’ It gave me that extra incentive. I knew from there I had to keep my head down, push through and get it done.”

What Campbell admires about Lingo, her ability to be open, positive and personable about her experiences dealing with a setback of this nature, is now mirrored in Campbell who has mentored several of her club athletes who have obtained an injury too.

“You can come back from it if you choose to,” said Campbell. “You can’t hesitate, that’s where you get stuck. You have to keep going forward rather than dwelling.”

Campbell gives credit for overcoming her substantial athletic injuries and reaching great achievements to her support system, her family.

“My parents and I have this saying, ‘I’ll never let you fall all the way down,’” said Campbell. “And they never have.”

That support system also includes her twin brother, Shane.

“He’s really supportive. He comes to my games and takes pictures on his new camera,” said Campbell. “Even if he can’t travel to our events, I always get a text.”

Although twins, Campbell and Shane are born on two different days.

“He’s older by 6 minutes,” said Campbell. “He was born on 11:55 p.m. on October 12 and I was born on 12:01 a.m. on October 13. That’s always my fun fact when I’m coaching a camp.”

Since her surgeries, Campbell’s hockey career has exploded with national championship titles in college at the University of Maryland, competing internationally on several junior national squads and making the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team roster for 5 years. In 2013, Campbell made the full-time transition from the national indoor arena to Team USA’s outdoor team. The jump from court to turf came with advantages.

“I’ve always loved indoor,” said Campbell. “I love working in small spaces. Ironically, playing in tighter spaces broadened my game awareness because I sped up my mind. You’re demanded to think quicker because in a second someone is on top of you. I’ve carried that mentality with me to outdoor. Whether you’re outletting, repositioning or on counter defense, I’m able to think a few steps ahead.”

Even with what she has already accomplished, her dreams have definitely not come to a halt. Campbell has set her sights on becoming an Olympian in the near future.

“I remember waking up really early in 2008 to watch a USA Field Hockey game during the Beijing Olympics thinking, ‘wow, these women are absolutely amazing. I just want to be like them.' I can’t tell you how much I looked up to them. I idolized them because they had reached something I was aspiring to go after too.”

And so the cycle continues, as Campbell inspires a new generation of hockey lovers watching her and Team USA dare to chase after their dreams. 

Check usafieldhockey.com next Wednesday for another USWNT Chasing the Dream post.

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