By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– North Marion’s Hailey Welch joined teammate Dani Christenson in taking their talents to their next level, committing to the NWAC East Region’s North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Continuing the game that Welch has played since she was five years old that has developed her drive and passion for the game.
“To be able to play in college is really exciting. I think it is a big opportunity and it’s a way for me to continue doing what I love as well as grow my skills as a player.” said Welch. “I have been playing since I was really little. I had not played another sport till middle school and that was track but I like to say that soccer is a part of me and will always be.
“I have so much drive to play. When we weren’t able to play, I would gather some of my other teammates to just go kick around.”
Welch was one of seven freshman that joined the Varsity squad back in the Fall of 2017. That year the Huskies went 13-2-1 overall and 9-0-1 in their final year of the Oregon West Conference, edging Philomath for the Title. Setting the tone for what was to come ahead of them.
That year was surprising Welch said, not expecting to play Varsity right off the bat. But they made the most of it the past few years as a North Marion Huskie soccer player.
“Being at North Marion has been fun. The girls around me are so amazing. As a freshman you don’t expect to make it on varsity so when there where seven of us who had made the varsity team freshman year it was amazing,” Welch said. “Because were such a young team with 7 freshman we learned how to play with each other very well.
“We have been together for four years. Building bonds and making a great team for ourselves.”
As a Junior, Welch was named a captain for the Huskies as North Marion reached the 4A State Semi-Final Round before falling to Woodburn 3-1 to end a fantastic 11-4-2 season. Being a captain was an incredible experience for Welch considering she got to watch her team take the next step in growth, teaching her to work with everyone on and off the field.
“A team had to work together off the field not just on the field. By being captain I have to work with everyone. Being a leader gives me a voice and teaches me how to be a better mentor. In my experience if you are not from North Marion you don’t have a name,” Welch said. “I came to North Marion and had to build a name for myself. Being captain had taught me to get everyone’s names out there. As a captain I try to build people up and help them become better players and better people. Last year we got so close to victory that we want it more than ever now.”
As painful as last year was, the now-Senior knows this year will be no difference considering they only lost one Senior from last year’s semifinalist team. The team will be coming back better than ever with a fire to make one final statement in their High School careers.
“Last year being so close felt amazing we are sad that we weren’t able to make it all the way but this year we will come back even stronger,” Welch said. “Since we have the same team with new freshmen coming in we will be strong and hopefully make it all the way this year.”
With North Idaho reaching the NWAC postseason two of the past three seasons, Welch knows she’ll have her hands full to preparing for the challenges that are in front of her in the Fall after she wraps up her final year at North Marion.
“I’ve been working out on my own. After school ends I will be putting in intense work to stay in shape for the season at North Idaho. I need to stay at the top of my game and keep improving,” Welch said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald