With diligence and sweat, field hockey dreams can come true.
Just ask Niskayuna High School graduate Carrie Hanks, who late last week was selected to the 2020 United States Women's National Team after years of climbing the program's ladder.
Hanks had previously been a member of several outdoor national junior teams and had spent time with the senior development team. The University of Maryland graduate's field hockey resume also includes stints with national indoor junior and senior teams.
"It's an insane feeling," Hanks said in a phone interview Monday from England, where the 23-year-old is studying at Nottingham Trent University. "I am so grateful to have gotten to this point. It is an incredible honor to be moving along with this team. This is what people think of when they think of Team USA."
Hanks was named to the national senior team after a tryout Jan. 6-8 at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
"There were 50 or 60 of us, and it was intense," Hanks said. "They were expecting a high level. They were looking for personal traits and playing traits."
Hanks is a 2014 Niskayuna High School graduate, a school where her older sisters Megan and Jenn also played field hockey. Carrie Hanks said she has received numerous congratulatory emails since learning that she made the nation's senior team from USWNT head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols.
"I have talked to a lot of my former coaches, and I can tell they're so excited for me," Hanks said. "I made sure to tell them, 'You are part of this.'"
Hanks said her objective heading into the team tryout was to maintain a position with the national program, be it with Team USA or the senior development squad.
"Of course, I wanted to make the national team," Hanks said. "When I got the email and saw congratulations — oh my gosh. It's something I've wanted for so long."
Hanks was a star midfielder while at Niskayuna — her parents Susie and Paul still reside there — but began to play defense in her early years with the national field hockey program, and continued in that role at Maryland.
Hanks started every game of her four-year career at Maryland, and helped the Terrapins reach the NCAA Division I championship game while earning All-American status as a senior.
"I've got quite a bit of experience in the backfield," Hanks said. "But I will play wherever they see fit."
Hanks is a member of the Nottingham Trent University field hockey team, and also competes for the Beeston Hockey Club located in Nottingham.
"The university and my club team have been so supportive," Hanks said. "My club coach [Colin Clarke] said, 'My goal is to send you back ready to make that national team.'"
Team USA will be competing against teams from several other countries in the FIH Hockey Pro League for the next several months. Team USA begins play a week from Friday with a match against The Netherlands at University of North Carolina.
"The athletes have worked incredibly hard through the recent trials to secure an opportunity to represent Team USA in the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League season," Nelson-Nichols said in a press release announcing the team roster. "Our staff is excited to work with this talented group."
"At this point, my goal for the next six months is to give them [Team USA] all of my energy," Hanks said.
Hanks graduated from Maryland in May 2018 with a journalism major and a Spanish minor, and headed to England later that summer. She has earned a master's in international relations from Nottingham Trent University, and is currently working on another in international development.