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Johnstown field hockey wants to cash in opportunity

Johnstown field hockey wants to cash in opportunity

Lady Bills eye Section II title
Johnstown field hockey wants to cash in opportunity
Johnstown field hockey coach Christine Krempa instructs her team.
Photographer: Erica Miller

JOHNSTOWN — Goals, both big ones and small ones, were a topic of discussion Monday when the Johnstown field hockey team began practice for the fall season.

That conversation led by Lady Bills coach Christine Krempa was like music to her players' ears.

"Basically, she told us the goal is to go farther than we did last year," rising senior Emily Frank said after Wednesday's workout at Knox Field. "She said she was only going to mention it once, and then we'll take it day by day."

The Lady Bills reached the Section II Class C championship game last season and lost by a goal to Hoosick Falls. An opportunity to get back there and make amends was put in doubt when Johnstown's school budget that residents passed on a  second vote excluded sports and other extracurricular activities.

"We weren't sure what was going to happen," rising junior midfielder Emily Fleming said. "It was really hard."

A fundraising effort has generated over $200,000 of the $311,000 needed to operate the school's athletic teams. That's enough to fund the varsity and modified teams, and now the push is on to pay for the junior varsity teams. That push will include Saturday's "Rock Out for Sports" at Fox Run Gold Course, and music-filled and raffle aplenty event put on by the school's Purple and Gold Booster Club.

Johnstown's JV teams began practicing Monday with the idea that they will play this fall.

"That's the mindset," said Krempa, who is a member of the fundraising committee. "It's like a game where you say, 'It's going to happen.' We're confident."

The varsity field hockey team is that, too, and quite appreciative of the efforts that have been put forth so they can go after another Foothills Council title and that sectional crown that eluded them last October. The team finished 18-1 with that 1-0 setback against Hoosick Falls.

"We're all so thankful to the people who have given money to support our sports," said rising junior forward Taryn Ringer, who, like Fleming, earned a spot on the all-state field hockey team following the 2018 season. "Sports is a major part of the high school experience for so many of us."

Several of the Johnstown field hockey players including Ringer, Fleming and Frank, also compete in lacrosse, and they helped the Lady Bills beat Holy Names for the Section II Class D title back in May.

"I was so proud of them that day. That was the definition of mental toughness, and it's hard when you are 15 and 16 to be mentally tough," Krempa said. "The girls won a championship two days after the community said the things they love aren't important."

"It was really emotional," rising senior Abbey Hollister said of winning the school's first lacrosse title since 2006. "We had been in such a drought and it was a great feeling to get it, but at the same time it was hard not knowing what was ahead of us."

Krempa envision a lot of positive ahead for her field hockey team that is young — Hollister, Frank and Abbie Mullins are the only 12th-graders on the roster — but proven talent.

"We want to pick up where we left off," said Frank, who plays midfield and defense.

Ringer, who recently committed to play at Duke, collected a school-record 43 goals as a sophomore. Fleming, the team's leading playmaker, had 13 goals and 11 assists as a sophomore.

"So many people look at those two," Krempa said. "We have worked to put ourselves in a position where the pressure can be taken away from those two. We have a lot of girls who can play."

Hollister likes how close the Lady Bills have become through their trials together on and off the field.

"My favorite thing is there is no drama," the second-team Foothills Council all-star midfielder said. "We are really connected. When you have that, you can go farther."

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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