By Kayla Curry
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Texas Tech senior Hayley Haagsma reflects on four years as a college athlete with pride knowing that she will be leaving everything on the field when she hangs up her jersey.
Haagsma kicked off her career as a Texas Tech soccer player strong.
“It started out really well,” Haagsma said. “I came in trying my hardest in the summer to make sure I was fit to keep up with all the returners and that my soccer skills were at the best level they could be.”
That hard work paid off when Haagsma started seven of the games in her opening season in 2010. But during the eighth game, Haagsma’s stellar season was abruptly interrupted and changed all the plans she had.
“My freshman year wasn’t ideal,” Haagsman said. “I ended up tearing my ACL. It ended the season for me.”
Haagsma said this obstacle gave her the opportunity to grow in a completely new way.
It was a process that didn’t surprise Texas Tech head coach Tom Stone who already knew the determination Haagsma possessed.
“It was never a question,” Stone said. “Her personality and determination made her recovery about as seamless as I’ve ever seen.”
During that process, Haagsma quickly developed into the player she is today.
“It was a whole learning experience to learn how to be a teammate in a new role that I’d never been in,” Haagsma said. “I grew up a lot in that way. Looking back, that was just an experience I had to go through to get to where I am today.”
She said she was thankful to know she had the full support of the team and coaches during the recovery process.
“The coaches were always there to just support me and give me that extra word of encouragement on a really down day where nothing else was really working,” Haagsma said. “They would see me down and just tell me that I was going to come back stronger and better.”
Haagsma did just that. Once recovered, she returned as a force for the Tech defense.
She has started in more than 60 games in her career and has scored 6 goals – 4 of those goals scored in 2013 alone.
Not only did Haagsma come back as a leader on the field, but she also grew into a leader in other areas.
“I was always one of those players that was going to work their hardest and do all that they could on the field,” Haagsma said. “I though that as long as I was doing that I was doing my job. Over the past two years, I’ve learned there are leadership qualities in me that have never been brought out.”
Haagsma explained that being a leader is much more than she had ever thought.
“When you have a team and when you’re the captain of a team, you have to rally everyone behind the team goals and the desires that the team has,” Haagsma said. “It takes more than just worrying about yourself.”
Haagsma has also shown leadership off the field by leading a team devotional before every game. She was also chosen as Tech’s August Scholar-Athlete of the Month for her performance in the classroom.
The Tech center back has been a key aspect of the defense that is ranked second in the nation and has helped lead Texas Tech to two of its best seasons in program history in the last two years.
The Red Raiders finished a program-best second in the Big 12 this year with a school record 16 regular season victories while going unbeaten in conference play.
As Haagsma’s time as a Tech student-athlete comes to an end, she said she is most proud of the effort she has continually given to the program.
“Just being a senior you have more and more thoughts as the season comes to an end,” Haagsma said. “I’m proud that I’ve truly tried to give everything I have to these girls, these, coaches and this school.”