Ayeisha McFerran looking toward Tokyo

The former U of L All-American will be the first former field hockey Cardinal to play the sport in an Olympic Games. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ayeisha McFerran's memories of her time at the University of Louisville are mostly positive.

"Great, great, well, I say great memories but there were some terrible dark days," said McFerran with a laugh from near Belfast, Northern Ireland. "Those training mornings at 6 a.m., you're like 'Why am I doing this?' Sometimes that makes you question it, but no, I loved my time at U of L. Loved it. I would go back, I wouldn't say tomorrow but maybe at some point if I could."

McFerran manned the goal for the field hockey Cardinals from 2015-18, becoming the school's first four-time All-American. Now, she's about to become the first hockey player from U of L to play the sport in the Olympics on the first team from her home country to qualify. 

"It's the first female team to qualify for an Olympic Games, not just in hockey but across all sports," said McFerran. "So it's quite a big history moment in Ireland." 

McFerran helped lead Ireland to a stunning second-place finish at the 2018 World Cup. She said the postponement of the Olympic Games last summer actually came at a good time for her. 

"I was really struggling," McFerran admitted. "I didn't enjoy playing. I didn't enjoy traveling and normally that's the best parts of it. So then, to kind of take a break and not really think about the sport and just kind of go and do other things allowed me to relax, chill, not have to think about it. So then when I did come back, I was ready to play again. I was ready to get the love back for the game again."

What is she most looking forward to in Tokyo?

"For me it's just about enjoying it. The hardest thing is just getting to an Olympic Games. Especially in hockey, there's only twelve teams that go. It's so cutthroat. I think getting there and enjoying it and experiencing being at the Olympic Games, it's the pinnacle of your career. And it's very easy to get wrapped up in seeing other people and wanting to perform and wanting to get medals. But that all comes, for me anyway, if I enjoy it."

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