By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– November 5, 2019 will forever stick with North Marion’s Mya Hammack.
Fog draped around the Woodburn High School turf field. It’s the first-round of the 4A State Playoffs against Stayton, overtime.
Hammack was just fouled on her way to the net with ten seconds left inside the box, setting up for a Penalty Kick opportunity. The Eagles found a way to neutralize one of the State’s best forwards up to this point of the game.
But it was out of respect for the talent and competitive spirit that five-foot-five Hammack has. A competitive spirit stemmed from her dad. Yes her family has supported her, but her dad has been one of her biggest influencers to this point of her playing career entering her Senior Year.
“Honestly my dad is probably one of my biggest influencers. I mean definitely my whole family has pushed me, but my dad has had the biggest impact. He’s really just helped lead me down my path and been my biggest supporter,” said Hammack. “I really don’t think he’s even missed a single game of mine. He’s always pushed me to want more and never settle for anything.
“With my dad, he has this great balance of guiding me and pushing me while also standing back and letting me succeed on my own. But I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without him. He always has new pointers for me or new drills to do.”
Hammack has always been a team player. On the soccer pitch or the basketball court, it’s team first. In that November game, Hailey Welch and Carter Crawford put the Huskies in a favorable position with Stayton charging back to force overtime late.
Hammack has been a guard in helping North Marion to third- and fourth-place her freshman and sophomore year. Not to mention another Quarterfinal appearance before the pandemic put a damper on another promising run her Junior season this past Winter. Hammack has worked her teammates into the team’s success.
“I think finding a good balance between being a team player and competitive has been so important. I think succeeding together is 100 percent better then succeeding alone. And I think my competitiveness helps me be a team player in the sense that it brings everyone else’s intensity up,” said Hammack.
“When one person is competitive or succeeds it makes the rest want to as well. That’s another reason why it’s good to be so competitive. It not only helps me, but also helps my teammates be better and succeed.”
The North Marion girls’ soccer team has slowly been coming into their own the past three years since Hammack’s freshman year. Quarterfinal, first round and Semi’s in that order with a 32-12-7 overall record and 20-6-4 in league play with a League Championship in their final year in the Oregon West Conference in the 2017-2018 season.
Hammack points to her class as the turning point. Giving support to those before them to lay the foundation they’re running with now.
“I think North Marion has really evolved and improved not only when I came, but my whole class came. For soccer my class has had such a big impact from my freshman year,” said Hammack. “Many of my fellow teammates started and played a great amount their freshman year similar to I did. We have been able to make it to the playoffs all three years, semis and quarterfinals. I think it’s all about continuing to rebuild the program.”
If there was anyone to hit the deciding moment against the Eagles was Hammack that November evening. Ten seconds left in the game and Hammack wiped the blood off her face and faced Stayton Goalkeeper Karlee Tyler.
Hammack approached and hit the right corner of the net, sealing the 3-2 victory over a similar upstart Eagles program. A family member came onto the field out of excitement only to have the sideline judge ask her to leave the field of play as the Huskies celebrated the goal.
“It was not only a well fought game on my teams’ part, but the end result made it all the better. It was also my birthday,” joked Hammack. “I just have such a vivid memory of the fog, and getting knocked down and my teammates all picking me up and looking at me and saying I was taking the penalty.
“I remember it almost being in slow motion. And then all my teammates were so excited and the crowd went crazy. And the best part is my nana ran onto the field and said “that’s my granddaughter” and then the sideline ref had to tell her to stay off. It’s honestly such a great memory and It will probably stick with me for the rest of my life,” Hammack added of the moment.
North Marion took down then-defending 4A State Champions Hidden Valley before falling to rival Woodburn in the Semi-Final round on November 12, 2019.
And though her Senior season has been pushed back to March and April, Hammack has been hard at work to better herself for the long-haul. Possible Senior season, College soccer beyond that. Training, improving and preparing for when the games start up while using that training as an outlet to break the boredom.
“Until games start again, mainly about training hard and continuing to improve. And it’s been a little hard to stay motivated but not too bad. I’ve honestly been a little bored so training has really been my outlet and distraction from all the craziness happening around us,” said Hammack. “I also know that there are also people training during this “dead period” so I know that I need to continue to work in order to be able to compete when the time comes.
“I really want to come out of this down period at a very high level and be close to the best version of myself. With it being my senior year, I felt that it was crucial to grind and stay focused on my goal. I hope that we will have a season and with it being my last, I want to make it count! Overall, I just wanted to come out of quarantine at my top level and ready to compete.”