Rosary soccer senior says prayer is part of her game

By Dan Arritt     10/30/2018

Hayley Heil was about five years old when she got her start playing soccer through a local YMCA program. Her mother played in high school, and now a senior at Rosary Academy, Heil is continuing that family tradition. Growing up with three older brothers at home, Heil enjoys the camaraderie of playing alongside her fellow Royals. 

“I like the competition, and I like being involved with a team and a group of girls,” says Heil. “Having that community with the girls, finding friends and being competitive and active with them means a lot.” 

As a defender and senior leader for Rosary, Heil aims to set a good example for her teammates and bring them together to work towards a common goal. 

“I really like the leadership side,” says the 17-year-old. “I’ve felt that I’ve become a stronger leader, and I’ve found my voice. I used to not say much. But from my position, I can see the whole field.” 

Rosary head soccer coach, Sean Melendez, agrees that Heil’s leadership has been an integral part of her success, and he is looking for the three-year varsity player to help guide their young team this season. 

“Hayley leads by example and has the ability to motivate and breed confidence in her teammates, enabling them to perform at higher levels,” says Melendez. “Her ability and skill on the field definitely make her a standout, but it’s Hayley morals and values that set her apart.” 

One of Heil’s challenges as she transitioned into high school soccer was during her sophomore year. As a player who was not a starter for the varsity team that year, Heil spent much of her time watching from the sidelines.  

But when a teammate became sick during a tournament, Heil was asked to step in. She made the most of her opportunity by scoring the game-winning goal on a free kick, which secured the tournament championship for Rosary and her spot on the team. 

“I kept working and tried to show what I could do when given the opportunity,” says Heil. “I’ve learned to be okay with giving and taking direction. And I’m finding ways to have good conversations with my coaches and peers about the game.” 

One way she accomplishes this is through prayer, as it’s a way for Heil and her teammates to find their focus prior to each game. 

“We say a prayer that’s about athleticism and competition, and God guiding us through that,” says Heil. “I really try to implement that into the game.” 

The Yorba Linda resident plans to study physical therapy and may continue playing soccer on an intramural team in college. Whether it’s academics or athletics, Heil’s mom is one of her main motivators. 

“She played all throughout high school and played in a women’s league as well,” says Heil of her mother. “She’s a big motivator for me in everything I do.”