“‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’”
Known for not only her volleyball skills and talent, but her leadership and selflessness too, Hailey Harward is admired by many for the way she carries herself on a daily basis. A beach volleyball player at USC, Harward has seen a career that has included time at Long Beach State, where she played both beach volleyball and indoor volleyball, before transferring to the three-time National Champion USC Beach Volleyball team. Since joining the Trojans, she has been impacting lives everyday as she uses every opportunity she can to showcase her gifts and give glory to God.
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Hailey Harward has always loved the game of volleyball. Now, as she finishes up her college career, she is focused on her faith and using it to inspire and impact others. Hailey says she recently became a believer and has been growing in her relationship with God and others ever since. Hailey says, “My parents and I identified as Christian but I didn’t really understand what that meant until August of 2020. I moved into a new apartment with my three other roommates who are very strong in their faith. I had the opportunity to ask them a ton of questions about religion and what it means to them. I was super curious to understand what the truth is, so I purchased a Bible and entered into my journey with a pretty blank slate. I am still constantly learning, but I do believe that what I am reading is the truth. I am so thankful that I was exposed to the gospel so that I can come to know Jesus and live a life devoted to God and glorifying Him.”
Since growing in that journey throughout the last few months, Hailey says she constantly sees God working through the game of volleyball as it brings her closer to Him. “Through my faith, I have found a greater love and appreciation for this sport that I get the chance to play everyday. I still feel that drive to be the best player that I can be, but now I am learning to balance the high expectations for myself that I’ve always had with the view that volleyball is a gift from God. Through my faith I am reminded of what is truly important in life and that my self worth is not dependent on how I perform on the court or how others view me.” For Hailey, that mindset is making all the difference. “It’s a lot easier said than done, but I can now turn to Jesus in those dark moments and find who I am in Him as opposed to distracting myself with other worldly things to make myself feel better and avoid those negative thoughts.”
Oftentimes, the rockiness of a season and unpredictability of each match can be burdensome on athletes throughout any sport. Hailey says that through her faith, she is reminded of what makes it all worth it. “My faith helps me realize where my self worth comes from and what my purpose is on this earth. During the low points of a season, I can rely on God as my reason for being and remember that how I play volleyball is not my reason for being. During the high moments or victories on the court, I can shift my thoughts from pride to gratitude. Thanking God for the opportunity to play a sport I love with people I love is a great reminder for me to not ride the highs too high or the lows too low.”
Now looking towards her post-graduate years, Hailey is working towards a masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with the goal of starting her own business. Although she isn’t sure of exactly what the future holds, she says it is volleyball that has taught her where to keep her focus. “Volleyball shows me where I fall short in loving others as a teammate. It shows me when I am prideful and self-glorifying. It shows me when I am envious of other people’s performance or situation. It shows me that my health and physical abilities can be taken away at any point, but that God will never falter.”
*Photos in article of Hailey with her parents, provided by Hailey Harward