Dykema was a 2019 Longtreth/NFHCA All-America second team honoree.
Note: Written by Paul McCaw, this feature story first appeared in the Flames Illustrated game day program for Liberty's football game against Southern Miss on Oct. 24, 2020.
Ashley Dykema began playing field hockey at an early age, fell in love with the sport and never looked back.
"As soon as I started playing, you could tell that I had a skill for it." Dykema said. "That was the beginning of the end."
Dykema, now a senior, was drawn to the Liberty field hockey program because of the team's unique culture. Since her first day on campus, Dykema has been greatly impacted by the coaching staff as well as her fellow teammates.
"The culture of the team is so unique and different. This program has pushed me past my comfort zone, in a good way," Dykema raved. "If you ask the coaches, especially Coach Parsley-Blocker from freshman year to now, I am a completely different person. I think that is a testament to the intensity and the demands of this team. They are constantly pushing you to be your best."
Since Ashley arrived at Liberty, she has since been joined by two familiar faces. Her sister Bethany joined the field hockey team as a freshman for the 2019 season and in the spring, she was joined by her youngest sister, Emily. The Dykema sisters are the second trio of sisters to play for the Liberty field hockey team at the same time, joining the Barr sisters. Natalie (2012-15), Bethany (2013-16) and Serena (2013-16) Barr competed for the Lady Flames from 2012-16.
"When I committed to Liberty, in my wildest dreams I would not have thought that both of my sisters would have played with me. When we were in high school and played club together, it was so different. When you come to college the demands are different, the workload is different and the expectations are different," Dykema stated. "It has been so cool to see them each navigate the offseason and the challenges that have come along. It has bonded our relationship in a new way because we are at a Division I program, and we are facing the same challenges together."
This offseason has provided many unique challenges for the Liberty field hockey team, as the season, typically played in the fall, was postponed to the spring. Despite the unusual circumstances, the Lady Flames have been committed to remembering their purpose.
"One big thing that we talk about a lot is remembering our ‘why'. We want to remind ourselves why we are out there and what we are pursuing," Dykema said. "It prevents us from getting caught in the day-to-day emotions. At the same time, we are pursuing glory for God while having fun and embracing the gifts that He has given us."
The Lady Flames have found unique ways to combat the irregularity that they are experiencing while continuing to bond as a team.
"Our scrimmages have really helped. It is not really game day, but it is a break from the normal practice schedule," Dykema stated. "We do a lot of off-the-field activities together where we will hang out or go get dinner or coffee away from the practice environment, which allows us to grow as a team."
The 2019 Longtreth/NFHCA All-America second team honoree and the Lady Flames are grateful that they are even able to practice right now, as some of their rivals have not been afforded the same opportunities this fall. They hope to leverage the time that they have together this fall into a BIG EAST championship and a berth into the NCAA Tournament in the spring.
"It is going to be very unusual, but I am very excited. Because of the situation that we have been put in, we are very different from the teams that I have played with before," Dykema said. "I am excited to see where we can go. Many teams in the BIG EAST are not able to practice right now, or they are only able to do so in a very limited capacity. It is going to be a really fun and special season."
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