Red Wing's Haley commits to Gophers women's hockey teamPaige Haley dreamt of playing hockey for the University of Minnesota and after verbally committing to the Golden Gophers, she will get her chance.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Paige Haley dreamt of playing hockey for the University of Minnesota and after verbally committing to the Golden Gophers, she will get her chance.
Haley, a junior at Red Wing High School, made the commitment a week ago to join the Gophers for the 2013-2014 season. She made the verbal commitment on the same day the University of Minnesota coaching staff offered her a scholarship. Because of NCAA rules, she cannot officially sign to play for the University of Minnesota until her senior year with the Wingers.
“It’s really something special for me,” Haley said. “I’ve watched them ever since I was really little. It’s a dream I’ve definitely always wanted and I’m really privileged to play and be a Gopher.”
Last year, Haley was a pivotal piece of the Wingers run to the Class A state tournament and consolation championship. She tallied 47 points — 22 goals and 25 assists — as a defenseman during her sophomore campaign. Haley also scored three goals and three assists in state competition and was named to the all-tournament team.
Haley’s father, Scott, is head coach for Red Wing girls hockey and her sister, Reagan, a freshman at Red Wing High School, plays on the team. Reagan was the third-leading scorer last season as an eighth-grader.
Paige’s relationship with her father and sister impacted the decision to stay close to home, but her family never pressured her to pick a particular school, she said. They allowed her freedom to choose the school that felt right.
“We’re excited that she is going to a school she is excited about,” Scott said. “We just let her go through the process.”
Despite being a hockey coach, Scott had little to do with her decision, Paige said, but told her she had his complete support no matter what. The bond between father and daughter was developed through long hours of training and was only possible because of hockey, she said.
“I could not have done what I have without my team and my family, especially my dad,” Paige said. “There have been a lot of people that supported me in this and I’m very lucky to be with the people and community I have. It was definitely very hard to get where I am, but it’s so worth it at the end.”
Paige also considered the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Dakota, but a series of factors — academics especially - came together at the right time for her to stay in Minnesota, she said. Paige wants to study business at Minnesota and knowing it had one of the most prestigious schools, the Carlson School of Business, definitely drew her in.
“It just keeps getting better and better as the days go on,” Paige said of choosing the Gophers.
Paige made two unofficial visits to the University of Minnesota, the final one a week before she made her decision. She left feeling the Gophers coaches, players and school were a perfect fit.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” Paige said. “I was ready to make my decision. I was excited about that opportunity.”
She was supposed to make an unofficial visit last week to Wisconsin but cancelled because her mind was already made up.
Now, Paige said she is ready to start the Wingers’ season and continue to develop as a hockey player.
“A lot of stress has been lifted off my shoulders,” Paige said of her commitment. “Even though the process was very long, it was very fun to go through. You get to do something not a ton of kids get the opportunity to do. I’m 100 percent satisfied with my decision. I knew it was the perfect decision for me.”