Visibly tired, Haley Fedden trudged toward the bench on the sidelines under the lights of Wilson Field. As she neared, she looked at the cluster of fellow Chapman women’s soccer alumni standing off the field. She grinned and extended her arm, gesturing in a thumbs-up.
Fedden has appeared in every single Panthers vs. alumni game like the match on Aug. 24 since her 2016 graduation. Fedden’s accomplishments as a women’s soccer player from 2012 to 2016 stand out: a member of the 2013 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) winning team, twice named to All-SCIAC teams and winner of the Brine award for sportsmanship, community service and academic success.
But as many student-athletes are forced to do when their college career comes to an end, she put away her cleats and transitioned into post-graduate life, which she said can be more difficult for those who were athletes during college.
“Having a sport definitely is different, because not only are you graduating, but you’re leaving behind what has been your whole life as far as all the time commitment,” Fedden said.
That time commitment now goes toward working at the Manly, Stewart & Finaldi law firm in Irvine, California, and attending law school at the Fowler School of Law. With soccer no longer a prominent part of her life, Fedden has found a competitive environment within the law school that houses an atmosphere she said helps her focus on her aspirations.
“When you’re competing at something you have full control of, you’re the only one that can control how hard you work or what you do,” Fedden said. “I’ve been like that my whole life.”
That competitive outlet helped Fedden cope with tragedy. During her sophomore year of college, her father passed away from liver cancer. Fedden recalled her father attending every game from her freshman season, despite battling his disease.
She said that while everyone needs time to grieve and be with family, her advice to those going through struggles is to not let it derail their goals.
“When I was going through that, people said, ‘Why are you here?’ Not in a negative way, but in a, ‘You realize you don’t have to be here; you can take time off,’” Fedden said. “That’s not what my dad would want.”
Just as she had the goal of helping her soccer team be the best it could be without letting adversity sidetrack her, Fedden plans to receive her law degree this May.
Fedden is still holding on to the relationships she has created with her teammates – three of them participated in her wedding ceremony, and a dozen more were in attendance. Even after graduating more than three years ago, she’s kept her foot on the gas pedal. To those who are dealing with their own challenges, she has a message.
“I have a unique experience to be able to say, ‘You’re going to look back, but don’t change your life,’” Fedden said. “Don’t alter what you’re trying to do.”