Mike Coppola/Getty Images

NewsUSWNTOlympic Games

Bing on Balancing a Career as an Engineer with Life as a Field Hockey Goalkeeper for Team USA

Content Courtesy of Olympics.com/Maggie Hendricks

When Kelsey Bing is headed to work, she might be going to the start-up Xwing, to pitch in on autonomous flight projects. She could also be headed to training with the U.S. women’s field hockey team.

Bing was the goalkeeper on the team that secured the American quota for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 at a tournament earlier this year in India but she also works as a mechanical engineer.

She balances the two jobs, each demanding in its own way, with the help of a packed Google calendar, communication with her bosses and teammates, and a willingness to ask questions.

“It wasn't that I didn't think I could do it. I just wasn't told I couldn't," Bing said in an interview with Olympics.com. "I'm very passionate about continuing to develop my career and just having a learning mentality about everything. And so, I just continued forging along. One of my biggest learning pieces is you can always ask the question like, what happens? The worst you get told is no. And you're exactly back to where you started. So I just asked a lot of questions and here I am.”

This means sometimes turning in work assignments from India when she’s traveling with the U.S. team, and it also means sometimes asking if goalkeepers really need to be at that meeting. Bing earned her engineering degree from Stanford while playing for the field hockey team, so she said she is used to juggling different responsibilities.

I think that's kind of what the NCAA sets you up for. There's such a focus on you’re a student-athlete. You're not just a student. You're not just an athlete. You can be both,” Bing said.

When Bing was growing up in Houston, Texas, her grandmother would bring her to science museums. Since Houston is the home of NASA, Bing had several choices, though they would often repeat visits to her favorite exhibits. Bing loved learning about science and solving problems. Her grandmother was a strong, female role model early on who taught Bing that science was for her.

Later, it was Bing’s mother who saw how much her daughter liked math and puzzles. She suggested that Bing might want to be an engineer, even though Bing didn’t know anything about it.

“It’s not like engineering is something you study in the seventh grade, you know? And so when I enrolled at Stanford, I just enrolled as a mechanical engineer because it seemed like the biggest umbrella. It seemed like I could do the most with this,” she said. “So I enrolled in mechanical engineering and just kind of fell in love with it.”

Finding field hockey was just as serendipitous. While field hockey is quickly growing in the United States, it’s still not as popular in youth sports in comparison to softball or basketball. Bing was already playing soccer, but needed another sport for her offseason.

“I had to choose between field hockey, cross-country and volleyball. Volleyball is inside. I didn't really want to be inside. I like being outdoors all the time. I'm a goalkeeper in field hockey, so you can probably make a pretty good assumption there about how my career would be as a cross-country athlete. So that got ruled out, kind of quickly. My mom said, ‘I feel like it's just like soccer. You should give it a go.’ I kind of fell into the sport a little bit.”

Now serving as Team USA’s goalkeeper, she sees similarities between her two jobs. They both require analysis, problem solving and teamwork.

“One of the off-field pieces that I like about being a goalkeeper is it is pretty analytical. And so people are always saying engineering, field hockey, those are so, so different. But I say they kind of have a similar mindset. You’ve got to sit down, review film, analyze what you've done, get to the root cause of the problem and then address how we can solve it. And I feel like that mindset of it all, I really enjoy like the analysis, but I also just like the aspect of being on a team."

But she also finds the connection with her teammates on the field to be special.

“It can feel isolating as a goalkeeper. I like having my team around me. When I feel so connected to our center back, that's when I play my best. It doesn't feel like I'm alone at all and I'm doing all the saves. It feels like we're working together and like, how can we push them so that they have the worst possible shot so that we can stop it together?” Bing said.

While Bing was on the team that secured a quota for her nation, the U.S. has not named the team bound for Paris. Pending roster selection, she’s excited that her family and friends will get to see her play again.

“What I'm most excited about is that, like, I think everyone knows, nobody can become this high caliber of an athlete without having a village behind them. What's really exciting is a lot of my friends and family, many of which who haven't seen me play hockey since I was in high school or college, are coming out and able to support. I want them to be able to celebrate that moment as much as I'm celebrating that moment, because they're 100 per cent a part of it, and I could never have done it without them. So that's my hope,” Bing said.

Since it is Paris, there’s one other thing she wants a chance to indulge in.

“I also love croissants, so hopefully I get a few good croissants in Paris,” she said with a laugh.