Last week, the Marysville Getchell girls soccer squad became the first team in school history to qualify for a state tournament. The Chargers wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that feat without the efforts of Hayli Huhta, their senior midfielder.
Huhta, who has six goals and seven assists this season, will finish her prep career as one of the program’s top-five all-time goal scorers.
“She’s tough,” Marysville Getchell coach Kyle Suits said. “It’s more of an emotional toughness, I think. She’s resilient. She’s one of the most athletically intelligent kids I’ve ever met. She has a level of understanding of the game that a lot of kids don’t have. She doesn’t take things for granted and exists in the moment. She’s the driving force behind our success. Her will and determination lift the load.”
Here are five things to know about Huhta:
She uses soccer as an outlet. “It’s a big stress reliever in my life I get stressed a lot. When I’m playing soccer, I don’t have any of those thoughts. I just go out and play. It’s a rewarding sport. It makes me happy. I don’t ever get tired of it.”
She’s dealt with anxiety. “When I was 12, for a whole year, I would throw up before every game. I was so nervous. I’ve had to work on my mental toughness. One of my club coaches, Mel Craig, told me to suck it up and helped me get through it. He was tough on me, but I had to work on believing in myself. I had to take medicine (to combat the anxiety). I still feel it, I still get nervous. But I have it under control, and I don’t let it affect my game. Once I get in the game, it’s gone.”
She’ll continue her soccer career at Simon Fraser University. “The recruiting process was kind of frustrating for me, but once (Simon Fraser) came into it, the coach and I connected, and I felt that she believed in me, and it felt right. The school is close to home (Burnaby, British Columbia), and that was big for me. The first time I went there, I laughed a lot and had a good time. It made a good first impression. The coaches seemed to love me and were excited to have me. It was a welcoming atmosphere, and I’m excited to go there.”
She’d like to pursue a career as a physical therapist or sports trainer. “My favorite class in school right now is strength and conditioning. I’m looking at (studying) health science, kinesiology and sports medicine. I’ve had injuries in the past, and when I went to physical therapists, it was cool to see how they worked and how much they helped me.”
Her club team, Seattle Surf G00A, took first place in the Girls U-18 Super Black bracket last summer at the San Diego Surf Cup. “It’s a prestigious tournament, so it was a big deal to win. Nobody scored on us, and we won (the last game) on penalty kicks. I’ll never forget that.”