JOHNSTOWN — Taryn Ringer is good at remembering dates.
Without hesitation the Johnstown High School field hockey player rattled off Jan. 11, Feb. 15 and Aug. 1 of last year, which marked the day she took a bad tumble while skiing, the day she had surgery to repair her torn left anterior cruciate ligament, and the day she got cleared to resume playing ball.
"I was tentative at first," said Ringer, a rising sophomore. "I had to find my way back into the game. The more time I spent on the pitch, the more comfortable I got."
Ringer has been making things uncomfortable for opposing teams ever since her return, and because of her work ethic, there are more key dates circled on her calender: July 29 through Aug. 2. During that stretch, the 14-year-old forward will be among 128 U16 players and one of nine from New York competing in the AAU Junior Olympics at the University of Iowa.
Ringer was among those selected by USA Field Hockey after a strong showing at the June 20-23 National Futures Championship in Pennsylvania.
Ringer will be joined in the U16 group by rising Bethlehem junior midfielder Carolyn Fisk. Both are members of ADK Field Hockey
"I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to play with so many elite girls," said Ringer, who learned of her invite on July 4. "It's absolutely amazing. I was super ecstatic when I got the email. It's a major opportunity."
It's another big honor for Ringer, who, after producing 19 goals and nine assists during her freshman season with the Lady Bills, was selected a Foothills Council all-star and made the all-state team. In April she made MAX Field Hockey's national elite freshmen list.
"My family, my coaches, the team, they pushed me to be the best player I can could be," Ringer said.
"All I can say is what a comeback for this kid," said Christine Krempa, Ringer's aunt and Johnstown's varsity field hockey coach. "Taryn sustained a serious knee injury which required surgery and was only cleared to play field hockey 10 days before the season started, so I really wasn’t sure what the season would look like for her."
For dedicated field hockey players like Ringer, the season never ends, with a continuous flow of games and practices. On Sundays through the winter and spring she took part in seven four-hour, invite-only Futures training sessions at Colgate University. A solid performance at the Region 4 Futures Tournament May 19-20 at Syracuse University led to an invite to the National Futures Championship at Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster, Pa.
"Essentially, it's a long, hard road to get selected [to the AAU Junior Olympics]," Krempa said.
Ringer's National Futures Championship U16 team of athletes from New York did not win any of its five games, and she managed only a goal and an assist, but earned recognition nonetheless.
"Competing at NFCs against the best field hockey players in the country can be a humbling experience," Krempa said. "Taryn didn't put up big numbers during her time at NFCs but her off-ball play, her passing, her pressuring between the 25's, and her field vision is what got her noticed from the selection committee."
Though her team struggled at times, Ringer never relented.
"When the other team had the ball I tried to mess them up," Ringer said. "I made passes to help my team. When I had chances with the ball, I tried to make the most of my opportunities."
Ringer's game plan for the Junior Olympics is to again go all-out, all of the time, knowing well that numerous colleges coaches will be on hand to watch the eight U16 teams in action.
"I hope it opens doors for me," she said. "Every opportunity I get I hope college coaches see me. I want to catch a Division I coaches eye and help that team go to the national championship and win."
In early June, Ringer helped her ADK Gold U16 team place first at the Region 1-4 Junior Premier League Tournament at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Ringer scored a tournament-leading eight goals in five games.
“Taryn is a very balanced offensive player which is what every coach dreams of," Krempa said. "She is a skilled ball handler between the 25s, she wins the majority of 50-50 balls she encounters, and the ease in which she works the ball down the field improves each and every game. Taryn can also score as evidenced in her team leading 19 goals and nine assists."
Ringer is currently competing with ADK in the Wicked Smart Summer League at UAlbany pulling double duty and playing on both its U16 and U19 teams. Ringer, who first picked up a stick at the age of two, joined ADK in fourth grade and joined the Johnstown varsity in eight grade, has often played 'up' in her career.
"That's how my skills get better, by playing with the older girls," Ringer said. "I love learning from them. They inspire me to do better."