By Alex Bodermann:
This season marks as an important one for Haley Albert as she is making a final run with the Iowa State soccer team. After tearing her ACL three times before graduating high school, there came a point when she didn’t even know if she would still be playing soccer at this time in her life, but here she is. The 6 foot 1 inch senior is coming off a 2014 season in which she was the team MVP for the Cyclones and finished a season without injury for the first time in her career. Her freshman and sophomore seasons were both riddled by injury: another ACL tear and a broken foot, respectively. It would have been easy to give up, but Albert uses her injuries for everyday motivation.
“I think every player in any sport understands that once you get [the ability to play] taken away, you notice how good you had it and that you took playing for granted,” Albert said. “So every practice, I take it as you never know what’s going to happen. Especially this being my senior year on top of that, I just want to enjoy it and that’s only going to happen if I’m playing at my best and giving it all I have.”
Albert played in 13 games as a freshman in 2012 and was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year, but she wasn’t satisfied. After tearing her ACL for the fourth time in her life, trainers told her that it might be a good idea to stop playing soccer. They had no luck convincing her.
“The reason why I kept playing was that I knew I still had stuff left to do here at Iowa State. I wanted to become a captain, and I wanted to continue helping my team reach the Big 12 [Championship] and go farther if we could.”
The decision to keep playing has definitely paid off for Albert in 2015 as she has indeed been named captain, and has already scored three goals in nine games this season—matching her career total). In addition, Albert was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
“It’s good to see, but it’s not satisfying, because there are things I still want to do here. We want to make it to the Big 12 [Championship], but first we need to focus on every game we have. But, at the end of the season if I can look back [at my accomplishments] and be like, ‘Heck yeah’ then that’ll be great.”
The honor of Big 12 Player Offensive of the Week came after Albert had scored two goals in just as many games to start the season. Both of her scores that weekend came off of corner kicks from her teammates, something she is very used to. Out of her six career goals, five have come from corner kicks and four being by way of a header.
“My head is used a lot during the games, that’s one of my strengths,” she said. “So when my teammates work hard to give me a good pass, I try to pay them back and work as hard as I can to get a goal.”
Everyone has heard of the phrase, “Bend it like Beckham”, but I like the sound of, “Head it like Haley.”
Albert has a unique advantage over a majority of soccer players around the world. She stands at 6 foot 1 inch, which makes her one of only three players in the Big 12 Conference who are six-feet or taller; and compared to the U.S. Women’s National Team, she would be the only one able to make this claim. Albert views her height as a major advantage.
“I’ve been blessed [with my height] because I’m not really fast. If you ask my coach she’ll mention it a lot,” she laughed. “But I am taller, I am stronger… So I use that to my advantage. I win balls in the air, and I can body people off.”
Albert’s height isn’t the only advantage she has on the soccer field as she has a high IQ for the game. It translates into the classroom as well, something that has always been a priority for her. She has been named Academic All-Big 12 the past two years, as well as being selected for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2013.
“If you don’t have your school work under control, then on the field you’re not able to fully commit and concentrate on that.” She went on to say, “If you get [your school work] done, then soccer is your time to just have fun and not have to worry about anything else.”
Whether on the field or in the classroom, Albert definitely shines and makes Cyclone Nation proud. From her determination to come back from her injuries, to her unique and exciting ability to be successful on headers, Haley Albert is certainly easy to root for. The Cyclone soccer team is currently 5-4 on the season, and is led by Albert and fellow senior, Lindsay Frank. They open conference play this Friday, September 25th, against TCU and return home to face Baylor on October 2nd. With five home games left this season, there is plenty of opportunity to watch Haley Albert in her final season with the Cyclones.