Every high school athlete has overcome personal obstacles and athletic challenges to get to where they are now.
But Mansfield Summit volleyball player Haley Harvey seems to have shouldered more than the average high school junior — and come away with the honor of wearing the opposite-color jersey as the libero for her Lady Jaguars.
Playing varsity and select volleyball comes with costs, both financial and a large time commitment.
So, it’s been tough on Harvey’s single-mother-home since her father passed away when she was just 5 years old.
He’d still be proud of me no matter what, but I wish he was around to see what I’ve done.
Haley Harvey on her father, who died when she was 5
To help make the ends meet, Harvey holds down a job in addition to maintaining her select summer schedule for the Arlington Courts Elite to make her own money and lift some of the burden off her mother.
“My mom works really hard to keep me in club and helps pay for it,” Harvey said. New volleyball shoes and other equipment were needed on top of all the new supplies it takes to start another school year.
But all that effort and commitment has been paying other types of dividends.
“When my father was around, I didn’t play sports,” Harvey said of her early childhood. “Now that I’m older, I’m sure he’d be proud of how I’ve grown as a player. He’d still be proud of me no matter what, but I wish he was around to see what I’ve done.”
What Harvey has done is earn the starting libero spot among five defensive specialists on the team — all of whom were fighting for the opportunity to wear the opposite color team jersey on the court.
“It pushes me to work harder. I want to stand out in the other color and have it push me to be better on the court,” she said.
Much of that drive to excel goes back to when at 13, she was working to play on a club team and was singled out by a coach in the tryouts as “the weakest player [who] wouldn’t play much.”
“I started the season as a hitter and got in on the right side a few times,” the 5-9 Harvey recalled. “I went to the back row for a hitter and after that tournament I went to practice and made the move to a defensive specialist position. That’s the thing that started me as a DS and started a fire in me to be a better passer and be on the court. The next season I was the libero.”
It’s that sort of challenge that keeps Harvey working hard and on her toes, she said.
“It keeps me working hard in life for things other than volleyball,” Harvey said.
Working hard through difficult times was an unfortunate reality for Harvey and her mother, Rene’.
Rene’ had just lost her mother four months before her husband passed away.
“I was worried with her growing up, that it would affect her as she got older,” Rene’ said. “But she’s a straight-A student and she stays busy.
“She gets compliments from all her teachers,” the proud mother said. “She’s made it so much easier to be a single parent. I know my husband would be proud and is having a ball talking about his little girl.”