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Athlete Spotlight: Alberto Montilla

June 26, 2020, 12:15 p.m. (ET)

Each athlete that wears the red, white and blue has a unique story to how their careers came to fruition. From the junior level to the senior squad, USA Field Hockey is putting national team athletes under the spotlight to share their journeys.

Being an elite athlete is one thing; pursuing your dreams and making them reality is another. Whether they spawn within the United States or across an ocean, the goal of being the best you can be does not have borders. Such is the case of U.S. Men’s National Team athlete Alberto Montilla, who fell in love with field hockey long before moving state side and representing Team USA.

Currently, one of the youngest members of the USMNT, Montilla grew up in Madrid, Spain and found field hockey through his physical education teacher in the first grade, who played in the top Spanish division and started a club team at the school. Montilla recalled being one of the few kids that tried out and credits his teacher for being one of the first steppingstones of his career.

“His name is Carlos García, and I really do not know where I would be now if he did not push me to stick to field hockey,” said Montilla. “I kept going to practice every week and have been playing since then.”

After a few seasons playing for his school, Montilla then transitioned to a local club team, Club Hockey Pozuelo, where he got his first experience in the Spanish league.

“Playing in the Spanish league at a youth level was amazing, I made many life-long friends, got to play some very competitive games and qualified for the national club tournament several times,” continued Montilla. “I was also part of Madrid’s regional selection team, where I got to play in other tournaments where the level was even higher. Growing up playing in Europe was a great experience and is what made me want to keep playing after I moved to the United States.”

After moving to Allen, Texas in 2012, Montilla’s passion to play continued to grow during his high school years. Each month, he packed his bag and traveled to Los Angeles to play with the Ventura County Red Devils (VCRD) and Bulldogs Field Hockey clubs. His passion to play was supported greatly by his family, as well as the teams and families in the Los Angeles area. Montilla credits his circle of support as a key part of his path to his career. Around the same time, the U.S. Men’s National Team’s centralized program was based in San Diego, Calif., and with his sights still focused on turning heads within the program, he chose to seek a college education on the West Coast.

He ultimately attended the University of California, San Diego, both to pursue his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and to train daily at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. It was the perfect scenario for Montilla through his first year at UC San Diego, only to watch the centralized training program migrate up the coast toward Los Angeles. It did not deter Montilla’s ambitions, who spent the next three years traveling back and forth from San Diego to Los Angeles, about 120 miles apart, to train at national team camps and participating in the Moorpark League in Moorpark, Calif.

“This was definitely not what I planned at first but if I could go back in time, I would still choose UC San Diego,” said Montilla. “During my time there I grew a lot as an athlete and overall had a very memorable college experience, enjoyed a great city and a great computer engineering program.”

Over the next several years, Montilla made a name for himself within the U.S. Men’s Olympic Development Pipeline. He was named to the U-19 and U-21 USMNT from 2016 to 2018, touring with the red, white and blue on multiple tours to Chile, Belgium and The Netherlands. In 2019, he formally joined the USMNT and earned his first international cap in the team’s test series against Ireland. That same year, he played a key role in USA’s performances in the FIH Series Finals and Pan American Games. Now with 17 caps under his belt, Montilla hopes to continue to be a big part of Team USA for years to come.

“Being part of the national team is a huge responsibility,” commented Montilla. “From the very beginning you know that you are fighting for a spot and that lowering your standards is not an option. As one of the younger guys on the squad I felt like I needed to work even harder to show that I was on the team for a reason. This meant that I had to train every day with the same intensity we bring to the field when we are on tour.”
Montilla went on to say being a part of Team USA gives him purpose to train hard every single day. Their next big mission is qualifying for the Olympic Games, one they came close to making come true in 2019. Regardless of the road ahead, Montilla boasts confidence that goal is attainable and gives the Wolfpack motivation to improve an already well-improved squad.

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Alberto Montilla