Haley Harrison wasn’t planning on transferring from Utah Valley when she quit the team following the 2016 season, but when a childhood friend floated the idea of playing softball for Idaho State, Harrison’s future fell into place.
Within a week, her mind was made up. She was leaving Utah Valley, would continue to play softball and she would attend Idaho State in the fall, playing for a program that has three regular season conference championships to its name in the last four years.
“I was excited to get back into [softball],” Harrison said. “I was wishing every night, ‘Man, I wish I could just keep playing,’ and one day it all just happened.”
The Wolverines lacked a competitive edge, Harrison said, and she had few opportunities to play. Her sophomore year, the junior appeared in five games for the Wolverines, leading Harrison to quit the softball team and spend her summer missing the sport. That’s when her lifelong friend and former teammate, Ashlyn Ames, suggested she transfer to ISU.
What began as a running joke between friends a year before, turned into a reality.
Soon, Harrison talked with head coach Candi Letts and signed her letter of intent.
“The coaches here gave me opportunities since day one,” said Harrison. “They let me fight for a spot. It’s been awesome.”
The transition to ISU didn’t come without challenges.
Not all of Harrison’s academic credits didn’t transfer between schools, meaning she had to retake some classes.
Fortunately, softball improved the experience.
“The team makes it worth it,” Harrison said. “It’s been a very open atmosphere since I got here. Everyone welcomed me like I was here the whole time.”
Harrison said she connected with her teammates immediately and the team shared a competitiveness and drive to win that she had missed while playing for Utah Valley.
She also enjoyed the new experience of having fans in the stands, she said.
At UVU, the softball team would see only a smattering of parents. But at ISU, a crowd of community members came to cheer the Bengals on.
“Here, you have support,” Harrison said. “The community wants us to win. It’s another reason to keep going.”
Not long into Harrison’s first season at ISU, the Bengals played against her former team.
The game didn’t scare her, she said—instead, Harrison was excited. After having been underappreciated at Utah Valley, she’d be face-to-face with her previous teammates.
For Harrison, it was a chance to prove herself.
“It made me want to work that much harder and really show them, ‘hey, you should’ve given me a spot last year,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, and my team had my back from the get-go.”
In the doubleheader against her former school, Harrison went four-for-seven, with one RBI and a stolen base.
While the move has inspired a lot of adjustments and some academic headache, Harrison said it’s been worthwhile.
Her coaches have valued her, her teammates have befriended her, and the team has proved a good fit.
“You never know whether the grass is going to be greener on the other side or what’s going to happen,” Harrison said. “But it’s a step you have to take, and I’m very happy I took that step.”