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Ringer, Fleming, Pratt sign National Letters of Intent

Trio to continue field hockey careers at college level

The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager From left, Johnstown's Sarah Pratt, Taryn Ringer and Emily Fleming all signed their National Letters of Intent to play field hockey in college. Pratt signed with the University of New Haven, Ringer signed with Duke University and Fleming signed with Appalachian State University.

JOHNSTOWN — When last season ended with a 1-0 loss to Bronxville in the state Class C finals, the Johnstown field hockey teams had every intention of making a return trip this season.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a change of plans.

Instead of taking the field with its loaded lineup that was to feature nine seniors, the Lady Bills saw their campaign pushed to the Fall II season, which is scheduled to begin March.

So instead of getting ready to make a return trip to the state semifinals, Thursday was spent with three of the team’s seniors making their collegiate commitments for next fall.

Emily Fleming, Sarah Pratt and Taryn Ringer all signed their National Letters of Intent in a small ceremony at the Johnstown gymnasium Thursday.

“I’m very proud of these girls,” Johnstown coach Christine Krempa said. “They’ve been a part of our program since they were in elementary school and it’s great to see them get the opportunity to continue to play in college.”

Fleming (Appalachian State) and Ringer (Duke) will play for Division I field hockey programs next year, while Pratt signed to play for the University of New Haven, a NCAA Division II school.

“I’m thankful to our administration for letting us do this today. It was nice to have some kind of normalcy for the girls,” Krempa said. “I feel bad for all of the seniors in every sport, not just field hockey. This is just a tough situation for everyone.”

All three players have made their mark for the Lady Bills as all three have been first-team Foothills Council all-stars and were key parts of Johnstown’s run to the state title game last fall.

Ringer, a forward, posted 44 goals and 10 assists last season. Her totals made her the leading scorer in Section II and the state and fourth in the nation. She was named a first-team Foothills Council all-star for the third straight season and she was named to the state championship all-tournament team. Ringer also was named the National Field Hockey Coaches Association National Player of the Month for September.

“It’s sad that we couldn’t have our season this fall, but this is a new chapter for us, and now things are set in stone,” Ringer said. “This shows how important the sport is to all of us and it’s really nice to have your family moving on with you.”

Ringer’s 44 goals also set a school record for goals in a season, passing her own mark of 43, which was set last season.

Ringer also was named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s High School All-Region Team for New York State. She was one of 13 players from New York honored.

Ringer has scored 110 goals and had 38 assists during her career with the Lady Bills, which began when she was just an eighth-grader.

For Ringer, playing for Duke will fulfill a childhood dream.

“Since I was little, I always wanted to go DI. It feels really good to reach that goal,” Ringer said. “”I went to a camp there and the players were coaches at the camp.The atmosphere was homey and everyone is really supportive.”

The atmosphere at Appalachian State was part of the reason that Fleming chose to head to the school, which is located in Boone, N.C.

“When I walked on campus there, I had chills. I knew this was the spot where I wanted to go,” she said. “I met the coaches and they were so nice, and the atmosphere was great.”

Fleming, a midfielder, finished with six goals and 11 assists last season, while playing with a torn labrum in her shoulder. She also was named a first-team Foothills Council all-star for the third straight year and to the all-state team for a third straight year.

Fleming also was named to the state championship all-tournament team. She has 30 goals and 30 assists in her career for the Lady Bills.

“It feels like I proved myself and that the hard work paid off,” Fleming said of signing to play collegiately. “It makes it 10 times better being with them today and doing this together.”

Pratt agreed saying she was glad to be with Fleming and Ringer, who she has played with since elementary school.

“I’ve been playing with them since third grade,” she said. “To sign with them is the next step for us. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now.”

Pratt, a defender, was a first-team Foothills Council all-star last season. She also was named to the sportsmanship team at the state tournament.

Pratt also was named a National FIeld Hockey Coaches Association Scholar of Distinction for her average, which is above a 97.

“I want to go to school for forensic science,” Pratt said. “New Haven is one of the top schools in the country for it. They have field hockey too, which made it even better.”

Krempa said that in addition to Thursday’s signees, she expect a few more of her seniors to take the field in college.

“We have nine seniors on our team and there will be two or three more that will be playing at least Division III,” Krempa said. “This is a tremendously talented class. It’s the most complete class top to bottom that’s ever come through here, and I’ve been around since the 80s. There’s not a weak link in this class.”

Whether that group gets to put their skills to the test on the field remains to be seen. With the COVID-19 numbers on the rise around the state and across the country, taking the field in March remains very much in douvt.

“I think our best shot for a season was this fall, but I’m holding out hope we can have a season in March,” Krempa said. “If we do, we’ll be ready.”

“We just want to get out there and play,” Pratt added.

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