Tango was Lone Division III Player Invited to USA Field Hockey Developmental Team Tryout
BABSON PARK, Mass.—After concluding her career as the most decorated player in program history, Babson College field hockey senior Ashley Tango (Reading, Mass.) had the opportunity to attend a U.S. Developmental Team trial on January 20-22 in Lancaster, Pa.
A three-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-America selection and two-time regional player of the year, Tango had not given much thought about playing after college but noted that talking with Babson professor Dr. Fred Opie, who made the U.S. men's lacrosse national team after a successful career at Syracuse University, sparked her interest. She applied to attend the tryout camp in late November and was the lone Division III player selected to participate in the trial with the developmental squad in mid-December.
"I will never forget the day I got to call Ashley and tell her she was selected to try out," commented 12th-year head coach Julie Ryan. "From that day until the tryout, we put together a one-month plan to combine strength and conditioning, video sessions, and on-field drill work to prepare her in all three areas. Her commitment was exceptional, even training through single digit temperatures and snow. I loved watching her focus with the intensity to push herself further than she ever expected."
January's trial, which featured a handful of other invitees as well as over half of the developmental squad, gave Tango the chance to test her skills against some of the top players in the country. Over three days, she participated in practices, skill work, film sessions, and a pair of games.
"I definitely felt extremely prepared physically, and it was good knowing I was in shape to compete," said Tango. "The players shot really hard and I had never been on a team where someone shot as hard as I did, but I felt like I could hang with them."
Aside from putting in work to sharpen her skills, Tango had to prepare for the challenge of playing on an unfamiliar surface. "The biggest gap (between Division I and Division III) was the strategy of playing on astroturf," commented Tango, who played the majority of her games over the last four years on much slower field turf surfaces. "Playing on field turf is so different, even in terms of where you force the ball and how you double team a player. It's easy to watch film and talk with Julie about it, but much harder to execute playing on astroturf."
In addition to the physical tests, including a two-hour game on the second night of camp, and the faster pace, Tango and other invitees broke down film in two separate sessions. "The afternoon of the second day we watched a U.S. game against Chile that we had previously studied (before the trial) and had to give a breakdown of what we thought Chile's strategy was and how the U.S. countered it," stated Tango. "In another session, we watched a U.S. game against Argentina and did more analysis. They were both similar to the work I had done while preparing with Julie, which was helpful because I had good stuff to contribute."
Despite getting word that she was not selected for the developmental team last week, Tango understands and appreciates that she has accomplished more than many at the Division III level do. "It was an honor to attend the tryout," she added. "It feels good knowing when you set your mind to something, even if you feel there is no way to achieve it, that putting in the effort, working toward a goal, and seeing where you stack up is rewarding."