By Eli Schwartz
As the 2022 fall sports season comes to an end, many senior athletes are retiring their cleats, running shoes, tennis rackets, and bats for the final time in their high-school career. A mere 8.7% of high-school athletes have the talent and tenacity to continue playing their sport at the collegiate level. Hailey Maes has thrived on the Centennial softball team for 4 years, and has the honor to continue playing ball at Trinidad State College.
Maes has played high-school softball for 4 years, 3 at the varsity level, and has served as the pitcher and foundation for the Centennial team. Her skillful pitching, athleticism, and knowledge of the game earned her a spot on the South Central League 1st Team, a high honor that only the top players in the city receive.
But Maes wasn’t always a softball star. In fact, she originally had no desire to play.
When Maes was in 4th grade, her mother decided to enlist her in the local softball league, a decision that 11-year old Maes strongly opposed. She wasn’t very athletic or coordinated, and her mother wanted to change that. Now, eight years later, Maes is very thankful that her mom pushed her into playing ball.
Just one year into her high-school career, Maes succeeded in making the varsity softball team. She describes this experience as very intimidating, being that her competition was 3 to 4 years older than she was. When asked about her greatest challenge in softball, Maes said it was “having confidence in myself to be able to play really good players.” But once she found that confidence, Maes guided her team to victory after victory.
Maes credits her successes to certain people and traditions. She feels most influenced by her first club team coach. “He taught me everything that I know,” she says. Maes also has a very specific pre-game tradition. If she doesn’t share a good laugh with her team before stepping onto the field, Maes knows it won’t be a great game. And through the endless hours of practice and play, Maes always keeps one thing in mind: “Practice makes permanent.”
Maes has dedicated 8 years of her life to softball, and at Centennial, she has been involved in Annual Staff, Girls Cabinet, and writing for The Centennialight. When reflecting on her softball career, varsity pitcher Haylie Maes states, “It was a hard journey, but in the end it was all very worth it.”