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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Hallock Taking Her Game To The Next Level

By Christopher Tremblay
Staff Sports Writer
Ashland’s Ayla Hallock has played softball for a long time and considers it to be her main sport.
However, entering the eighth grade she was looking to find something that she could add to softball.
Enter field hockey.
“I was looking for something to do in the fall,” the senior said. “It was to be a fill-in and nothing else, softball was still my number one priority.”
While softball was to be in the forefront of everything else for the Ashland athlete, field hockey soon became a sport that she found herself to be intrigued with. Before she knew it, she was joining the Northeast Elite, a field hockey club team out of Lowell, and softball was being displaced with field hockey as her sport.
As softball dropped to Hallock’s number two sport, it eventually found its way off her list all together. Today field hockey has become a 24/7, 365 days a year sport for the Ashland athlete. She has also started running track during the winter and spring seasons to stay in shape for main sport.
“I dropped softball all together as track was better for me and I really didn’t have the same love for the sport as I used to have,” Hallock said. “I’ve become more passionate about field hockey and run the 200 and 400 in track while also participating in throwing events, like the javelin.”
As field hockey began rising up the ladder, it wasn’t something that got her excited to play right off the bat. While Hallock found that she loved playing her new-found sport, she quickly found that it would have to be put on hold her freshman year in high school due to the Pandemic. With no real actual field hockey to play, she began watching a lot of You Tube videos on the sport and was teaching herself.
Having no first-year high school varsity field hockey, Hallock relied on her club team that would eventually start playing again. It was here that she believed her game skills developed into the player she is today. In addition to putting in as much effort into the game as she possibly could, she was also taking private lessons. Hallock also found time to rent out batting cages and practiced her hitting and shooting, so come her sophomore season, things would start to fall into place.
As a sophomore playing in what was her real first year on the varsity squad Hallock went out and earned herself a Tri-Valley League All Star honorable mention, was named the Clockers Unsung Hero and found her way onto the team as a starting defensive midfielder. She found the season to be a pretty big deal as it corroborated the fact that all her hard work had paid off.
Playing defensive middie was not her choice, but one of one of her coach’s prior to getting to high school. Being one who had a high endurance and loved running all over the field, the position was perfect for Hallock’s demeanor. A position that she enjoys immensely, stating that much rather be preventing the opposition from scoring goals than actually scoring them herself.
“Ayla has a high field hockey IQ and sports awareness. She is always looking to improve the team and will help teammates with learning new skills,” Ashland Coach Molly Foley said. “She is continuously motivating those around her to be better, including myself, making me aware of the latest field hockey developments.”
During her junior campaign, Ashland earned themselves a number 16 seed in the Division 3 State Tournament where they defeated Dennis-Yarmouth 3-2 before falling to Watertown in the Round of 16. Then earlier this year Hallock committed to Merrimack College, a Division 1 school in Andover, where she will take part in a five-year athletic training program. Eventually she wants to become a physical therapist.
“I knew that I wanted to play Division 1 field hockey and I worked hard to make it happen. I am so happy that my hard work paid off,” Hallock said. “I was looking at other schools, but Merrimack seemed to be part of my future plans.”
Hallock went on to note that the sports culture, the size, the coaches, and teammates at Merrimack all seemed to be a good fit for her skill level.
“One of the biggest obstacles I thought about was the broken leg test,” she said. “Would I still want to go there if I wasn’t playing field hockey – absolutely.”
Her Ashland coach believes that her defensive middie should have no concerns about playing Division 1 field hockey for the Andover school.
“It is incredible how much she has improved from year to year. She made the varsity team as a freshman because she was a phenomenal player,” Foley said. “Each year she came back with new skills and confidence; it’s amazing what she has been able to accomplish over the last four years. I’m so excited what she does this year and into the future.”
As a defensive middie she doesn’t usually find the time to score goals, although she has been able to get into the circle at times and been able to produce a few goals for the Clockers. With that said, Hallock really believes that her main job is to get the ball out of trouble by either clearing it out of Ashland’s zone or making that outlet pass to one of her teammates.
As a senior captain this fall, Hallock would not only like to repeat as a TVL All Star and the Clocker’s MVP but would like to be an overall leader that is well respected amongst her teammates and throughout the league.
“As a team, we lost 13 girls, so we have a brand-new team, so to speak, but we have a great team environment with communication and a lot of bonding,” she said. “My main goal is that we continue to improve each day with everyone giving 110% all of the time while on the field and then leaving it there. If we get to go back to the tournament that’s a bonus.”
When her high school field hockey career comes to a close, she will still have two track seasons before she has to say goodbye to Ashland before moving onto the next chapter of her life in college.