VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (BVM) — In the few short years of her attendance at Frank W. Cox High School, junior Abby Spear has accomplished a lot. Not only has the field hockey goalie won the state championship with her older sister, Sarah Spear, but she did so twice in consecutive years, being an anchor for the Falcons in the net.
“It’s such a blessing to be on the same team with my sister,” Abby said. “I can always have that support on the team and I remember as a freshman being so nervous and she definitely helped with that and with her support.”
Though she was only an underclassman during the two state title runs, Abby held her own for the Falcons this past season, surrendering only three goals against opponents from the state last year and only six total.
Abby was critical to the Falcons’ success as a sophomore as she helped the nationally-ranked squad to a 20-1 record, the only loss coming in a tournament against a team from New Jersey early in the year. With Abby’s solid play in the net, it was smooth sailing for the Falcons as they cruised to an unbeaten conference record and a 4-1 victory in the Class 5 state championship match against Mountain View. The win was also a historic one for Cox as it marked the 21st title in program history, breaking a VHSL record.
“It felt surreal,” Abby said. “I look back on it and I’m like, ‘I helped a little bit stopping these shots. I helped contribute to that.’ Being a part of the team is a great experience and the girls at Cox are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and most talented. I’m pushed every day at practice.”
Abby has been in love with field hockey from a young age, starting to play the game at only 5 years old with the local club team 757. For Abby, who grew up playing many different sports including soccer, field hockey just felt like the right fit.
“None of them really felt permanent,” Abby said. “I was five and a half when I first started playing field hockey and I haven’t stopped.”
While she had started as a field player, Abby soon found her team with 757 down a goalie and with her being “built or capable of being goalie,” she decided to give it a shot.
“I just tried it out and it just felt right so I kept doing it,” Abby said.
While Abby has had plenty of accomplishments during her time with the Falcons, her work on her newest club team, TOCOYO Hockey, may be even more impressive. Abby has been a member of the TOCOYO program since she was 11 years old and during that time she has been able to lead her squad to a number of championships. In 2017, Abby led her TOCOYO U14 team to a national club championship. The same year, she won a national club championship with the TOCOYO U16 team as well. In 2018, she repeated the accomplishment, winning both the U14 and U16 national club championships again to go along with her Falcons’ state championship. Last year, it was much the same as the then 15-year-old led the U16 team to its third consecutive national club championship to go with her second straight state title.
“They’ve been such a welcoming club, it’s a great team to be a part of,” Abby said. “I feel like TOCOYO as a program gave me a place to really grow as a person. They gave me an opportunity with colleges and camps and tournaments and I am fortunate they gave me those opportunities.”
Of course when one does well in a particular field in sports, it tends to be noticed on a national level and that is no different for Abby. In 2016, Abby earned a spot in USA Field Hockey’s Futures Program which allows approximately 5,000 athletes to train at a Futures site in their region for seven, three-hour training sessions during the months of January through April. They then are given an opportunity to participate and be selected for their Regional Futures Tournament and the National Futures Championship. Though she didn’t make it to the national tournament her first year, Abby made the national tournament in back-to-back years for the U14 in both 2017 and 2018 while also making the U16 national tournament in 2019.
Due to her successes on the teams, Abby was also selected to the AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2018 as well as the USA Stars & Stripes Elite Game and the U16 Junior National Camp in 2019. This year, Abby was also selected as a member of the U.S. Field Hockey U16 women’s national team which made for an interesting story when she learned the news.
“I was in the middle of my history class and we were actually just finishing a test when I got the email alert,” Abby said. “I literally jumped up. It was really embarrassing looking back at it, but I’ve never been happier. It was like everything I worked for finally came true. It was a really great moment.”
The national team was scheduled to play in an England Tour in April before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be canceled. Though she didn’t get the opportunity to play international games, Abby did get to go to the Olympic Training Center in California to participate in practices with the team, something the young athlete will cherish.
“It was one shock after another,” Abby said. “When I got selected it was a great moment. Every moment after it, making second cuts, going to California, every moment that happened was just one great experience after another. … I was OK with the tour being canceled just because of all the good experiences I already had and all the new friends I made. I think even though we didn’t get to experience the whole thing it was an incredible, new level of play I got to play on.”
Although she still has two seasons left with the Falcons and her sister has now moved onto Columbia University, Abby decided to lock in her college decision early verbally committing to Duke University this month. The Blue Devils finished last season ranked No. 8 in the country with a 13-8 record. Abby will also be joining fellow TOCOYO alumni Leah Crouse and Grace Norair, who will be joining Duke as part of the 2021 recruiting class. For Abby, Duke was an easy and obvious choice since she had established a strong relationship with the Duke coaches going to camps and being in communication with them for many years.
“I have a really, really long history with Duke,” Abby said. “It was the first hockey camp I ever went to as a field player and as a goalie. Their coaches have been so supportive my entire process in becoming the goalie I am today. … I think the program is just incredible and I love everything about it. To be able to commit to my dream school, I’m still in shock sometimes. I’m really fortunate to have what I have.”
With her future college selected, now Abby can turn her focus back on her high school career with the Falcons. Having already won two state titles in two seasons with the team, Abby will be looking to go for the rare quadfecta over the next two seasons.
“Currently I have two rings so if I could get two more by the end I would be pretty happy about that,” Abby said.
When Abby is in the net, anything is possible and she is looking to prove that this year with the Falcons now that her collegiate future has been decided.