2011 Athlete of the Year: Hayley Anderson
Sports: lacrosse, track and field
Why: Anderson continues to demonstrate perseverance, leadership and outstanding performance on the field, despite the challenge of overcoming a serious injury.
When a reporter visited Hayley Anderson's gymnastics class and asked about their ultimate ambitions, some of the elementary school-age kids said they wanted to go on to the Olympics.
"I said I wanted to get a college scholarship," Anderson, now a high school senior, recalled with a laugh.
After 10 years competing in gymnastics—part of that time on a national level—Anderson turned her focus to lacrosse at Centreville High School. She was selected during her sophomore year as the school's youngest-ever team captain. It was a natural fit for her, in part because most of her family members have played it at one time or another.
"When I was little I always hated it," Anderson admitted. But, "I tried all these different sports and I found I loved lacrosse."
Her newfound enthusiasm for the sport spread. As the captain, she works with her teammates to help them improve their skills. She also teaches stick skills and runs through drills with other girls interested in joining the team. She runs track and field, mostly to keep in shape for lacrosse, she said.
At the end of Anderson's sophomore year, though, she sustained an injury to her ACL.
“I was in a lacrosse tournament and I was doing a dodge and it just tore," she said. "I stepped in a bad patch of grass and my knee went one way and my ankle went the other.”
Months of rehab and surgery would probably be enough to convince other athletes that it was time to call it quits. But Anderson returned to the field after just six months, while still in recovery. Not only that, she earned first team all-district and second team all-region honors in 2011.
She hasn't given up her hope of playing lacrosse in college. She's applied to nine schools, all of which have top-notch programs.
“I’ve always wanted to play a sport in college. That kept me going," Anderson said. "I still haven’t given up on that.”