Even though she just turned 16, Pasadena resident Shelby Bumgarner has already made a name for herself in local and regional field hockey circles.
Over the holiday break, Bumgarner took her game international.
The Archbishop Spalding sophomore was one of 12 players to represent the United States as members of the 2019 Junior U.S. Women’s Indoor National U-21 Team, which traveled to Croatia to compete in the Croatia Cup.
Bumgarner and her teammates notched victories over Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary on the trip, which naturally she said was an unforgettable experience.
“It’s been my dream now for a while recently to get that international experience and be playing with these girls that have the same passion as I do, so I was just extremely grateful and thankful that I got this opportunity,” Bumgarner said. “Flying the flag and playing for the USA, there’s just really nothing like that. That’s something that I’ll remember forever.”
While Bumgarner’s field hockey career is taking flight, it started right here in Pasadena. She began playing Lake Shore field hockey at age 5 and played with Lake Shore all the way through eighth grade, coached by her mom, Jenny Bumgarner, and aunt, Cindy Grant.
In middle school, Bumgarner ratcheted up the level of training and competition by joining Freedom HKY club, and that’s when her love for the sport deepened.
“That’s when I knew I really wanted to play this [sport] and work hard and be the best I can be,” Bumgarner said.
After winning a Junior A county championship with her Lake Shore teammates in 2016, Bumgarner matriculated at Spalding, where she’s been a defender for the Cavaliers in the ultra-competitive Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, twice leading the Cavs to the playoffs.
She went through several rounds of tryouts to make the final USA team that traveled to Croatia.
“To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to make the team,” she said. “I was extremely humbled.”
The indoor game is quite different from the outdoor game; it’s played on a smaller surface with boards confining the sidelines, and the ball stays on the floor, making for a much faster pace.
“So it’s totally different than outdoor field hockey, but it helps you with your individual skills, your tackling, your one-v-one defense, and so it will really help me with my outdoor game,” Bumgarner said.
That, combined with being around other players of her caliber and dedication, made Bumgarner thrilled with her overall takeaway from the experience.
“The girls also had the same passion for the sport that I did, and I thought that was really cool to just share the same interest in field hockey,” she said. “The speed, the intelligence, the game sense that these girls had is something that I really learned from.”
Apart from field hockey, Bumgarner listed her other interests as lacrosse — “that’s my non-pressure sport, but I really enjoy it” — traveling, cheering for the Boston Red Sox and hanging out with her family, including her mom Jenny, her dad Ron and her sister Stella.
While an IAAM championship and college field hockey are the next goals to pursue, Bumgarner said she’ll also pursue making the Olympic outdoor team in the longer term. She plans on taking the same approach that has earned her accolades and opportunities so far.
Said Bumgarner, “I am just going to train and work hard and see where that takes me.”
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