Yough girls soccer standout Hadley Sleith adds football to packed athletic resume
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | 5:09 PM
Between school and soccer, Hadley Sleith’s schedule is pretty busy most days.
It got even crazier this fall when the Yough senior decided to join the football team as a placekicker.
“I love playing sports. I love being competitive,” she said. “Playing sports helps me bond with people at school and it brings me together with the Yough community.”
A four-year starter on the Cougars’ soccer team, Sleith didn’t imagine she’d be donning football pads on Friday nights this fall.
“I was a water girl for the football team last year and Coach (Scott) Wood reached out to me over the summer,” she said. “Sometimes, the boys on the football team would joke with me and they said I should kick for them. I came out to a practice in the summer and tried it and made the team.”
Wood is glad she tried out for the team.
“We were trying to get her to kick last year, but we couldn’t convince her,” he said. “A couple of the kids were texting her and stuff. She came up during a practice in the summer and tried it and it worked out.”
So far, she has connected on 2 of 6 PAT attempts.
“The ones she didn’t make were blocked and it’s not because of her,” Wood said. “The guys on the line let someone through and she didn’t have an opportunity to get the kick off. When they have given her the time, she hit them well.”
Her first successful PAT came in a 25-0 win over Uniontown in Week 1.
“I didn’t know what to think when I saw it go through the uprights,” Sleith said. “All the boys and coaches all came to me and were smacking my helmet and my shoulder pads. They were happier than I was.”
Her second PAT came the next week in a 55-35 loss at Mount Pleasant. She has tried one field goal, in a 9-0 loss to Serra Catholic in Week Zero, but the kick was blocked.
“Our line guys didn’t touch a soul and it was blocked,” Wood said. “I asked her, ‘Did you make them all mad or something because not one of them blocked for you?’ She is making kicks from 32 yards away in practice, no problem. She’s getting a lot better as the season goes on.”
And, Sleith’s getting used to the hectic schedule that comes with playing two high school sports simultaneously.
“I stay after school for football practice. We watch film and then they have me kick at the beginning of practice and then I go home, eat dinner for five minutes, then leave again for soccer practice at 6,” she said. “I love it, though. The boys and the coaches are all supportive of me. The guys have become some of my best friends I’ll ever have. There’s nothing like Friday Night Lights.
“The first time my soccer teammates saw me in my pads and helmet, they were all cracking up, but they are very supportive, too. They go to the games on Fridays and they cheer me on,” she continued. “When I first told my mom about it, she laughed. She didn’t think I was serious. But, she comes to all the games and loves watching it.”
Sleith’s juggling of two sports creates an interesting situation for when she is honored at halftime of the Oct. 18 game, along with the rest of the Yough homecoming court.
“I am going to have to walk at halftime in my football pads,” she said with a laugh.
Playing football hasn’t taken away from her soccer game. The Cougars are 5-1 through their first six matches and a favorite to challenge for a WPIAL Class AA title. Sleith, a central defender, is a Clarion University recruit.
“It’s certainly a credit to her for putting in the time and effort, especially with two sports at the same time,” Yough girls soccer coach Dann Appolonia said. “Basically, from her freshman year, she has been a fixture in the central defender position. Our defense is very good this year and she is one of the big reasons why. If we’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs, she will be a big part of it.”
Soccer and football aren’t the only sports Sleith has participated in at Yough. She started her freshman and sophomore years on the lacrosse team, but switched to softball and started in left field last year and hopes to play this spring. As a sophomore, she started on the basketball team and wants to play again this winter, if her soccer schedule with the Riverhounds Academy East allows her.
“Of all the sports, my favorite is soccer. I have the most knowledge in soccer,” she said. “That’s probably one of my better sports, too.”
Sleith’s coaches are thrilled to see her succeed in athletics and academics.
“I think she’s probably one of the best female athletes we have in the school and one of the most well-rounded ones,” Wood said. “Education-wise, she’s doing very well in school. She’s planning to go to school for nursing. We’re just lucky to have her.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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