Student Athlete of the Week: Haley Brown
This week we get to know volleyball senior outside hitter Haley Brown. Starting in the middle blocker position, Brown brought herself to spots on the All-Crossroads League Second Team and Crossroads League All-Freshman Team her freshman year. For the rest of her college career, she dealt with a lot of pain in her hips, her sophomore season ending in a medical redshirt and her junior season ending with an All-Crossroads League Honorable Mention.
With the position change to outside hitter, Brown was able to bounce back her senior season. She finished just outside the top 10 in kills for the NCCAA nationally with 281 kills and finished in the top-30 for blocks in the Crossroads League with 60 blocked balls. She once again earned Second Team honors in the Crossroads League and was one of 12 women’s volleyball athletes to earn a spot on the North Central All-Region Team.Q: What has made this season of volleyball different from previous seasons? A: Honestly, every season is always a little bit different, with new teammates coming in and seniors graduating. This year, we actually had another coaching change, which worked out really smoothly and ended up being a lot of fun. A more significant change for me was playing a new position. I have played middle my whole life, and this year, I got to play outside. My coach thought that it might help save my hips. I’ve had two previous labrum tears which I think was from the constant side-to-side movement from the middle position, so they wanted to keep me healthier and move me to the outside. So, that was a lot of fun to contribute in a different way. I also probably felt the healthiest I’ve been since my freshman year, so that was really exciting for me to get to play the whole season and not really have to worry about any complications come up. I redshirted my sophomore year and then my junior season, I was just in pain the whole time. Q: When did you first pick up the game of volleyball? A: I started playing when I was about third grade, so maybe when I was eight or nine. I just loved it right away. It’s just been really big part of my life ever since then, so it’s going to be really hard to let it go. Q: What has been your favorite kill in volleyball that you committed? A: Oh, man. One that I specifically remember was my freshman year, playing Huntington, and there was this one player that I specifically didn’t really like. I really liked to beat her. I was running a slide and I came down and I hit it basically right at her face. It was awesome because she’s a really good player. To get a kill like that on her just felt really good. We ended up winning that game too and I still remember it from my freshman year. It was a really exciting one for me, just being a competitor, coming (in) as a freshman, and being able to contribute like that was really memorable for me. Q: Who do you look to for advice on the game? A: Other than my teammates and my coaches, I really like to talk to my aunt and uncle about volleyball. They both played at the Division I level when they went to college and have been developing their knowledge. It’s just been their love for the game ever since then, so (they’re) two pretty amazing assets to have as far as encouragement and advice over my career. Q: Why have you stuck with volleyball after all of these years? A: I’ve stuck with volleyball because it’s just amazing. I don’t know how anyone could just watch it or play it and not love it right away. Just like the feeling I get when I play. A lot of people seemed surprised when I tell them about all the problems that I’ve had and how I’ve still continued to play and I’ve finished out my senior (season). I did it because it’s my passion and I wish that I’d never have to give it up. I didn’t really care what it cost me to be able to play one last time with my team, in that jersey. It’s just unlike anything I’ve ever done or have been a part of. I can’t ever see my passion or desire for this game ever dying. It’s definitely going to be a part of my life for a long time. Q: What are some of your volleyball philosophies? A: I have a lot, but I’m a really competitive person, so I would say that, “As long as you’re playing as hard as you can and doing whatever you can to help the team succeed, then you can consider yourself successful.” It really all comes down to the effort you put in and the chemistry you have with your team. I think if you have both of those things that at the end of the day, you’re going to have success and you’re going to grow. Q: Where do you hope to take the game of volleyball after you graduate, if anywhere at all? A: If you had asked me this my freshman year, I would’ve said I hope to play professionally, like overseas or something like that. With my injuries that I’ve had and about to have my third surgery, that will not be happening. So, I’ll probably have to take it with me in different ways. My sister is getting ready to enter college and hopefully, have a career of her own that I will be following. Maybe coaching in the future or hopefully, passing it on to my children if I’m ever blessed to have any, so I’ll find ways to keep it around for sure. (Photo Credit: Bethel College Athletics)