Football player, senior reflects on path to graduation

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

Athletics has always come naturally for 23-year-old Hayden Schmidt, whether it’s playing club soccer, competing in nationals for roller skating or walking onto the WSU football team.

The WSU senior’s passion for soccer began when he was a child, Hayden said. He attended youth camps and eventually played in a premier league in Washington when he was in high school. Along with the premier league, he also participated in baseball and basketball.

Hayden played less than a full season of football in his senior year of high school. When he came to WSU he wanted to continue with athletics, so in his freshman year of WSU, he joined the club soccer team.

“Club soccer was great, but it wasn’t quite what I was wanting so I decided to walk on to the football team,” Hayden said.

He tried out for the team as a walk-on his sophomore year. When the results were posted, Hayden’s name was on the list.

“I was like, ‘No way,’” he said. “Which at the same time I knew I was going to need to learn some stuff about football.”

Hayden, a mechanical engineering major, said his parents would always tell him to not be afraid to try new things, including football.

In Hayden’s junior and senior years at WSU, he did not spend his nights staying up. Instead, he woke up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to work out. From there, he went to class and attended to football commitments until 7 p.m.

The expectations of the team don’t stop with practices. Hayden said he became homesick after spending his winter, Thanksgiving and summer breaks training for football.

“I was in Pullman, like all year,” he said. “That was different for me because being from a small town, I’m super family-oriented.

One of his most memorable moments was suiting up for College GameDay, he said. The nerves weren’t like any other game of the season because this time, all his friends and family would be watching from home.

“That single moment was like, this is what it’s all about,” Hayden said. “That just hit all at once.”

Brenda Schmidt, Hayden’s mother, said she would travel to all of his home soccer and football games.

“[College GameDay] was very exciting,” she said. “We were there and is was definitely one of the more memorable moments.”

Growing up

Hayden, an only child, grew up on a cattle farm, which was started by his grandfather in the Skagit Valley.

When his peers were coming home from their summer jobs to play video games, he would go help his dad on the farm, Brenda said.

In addition to farming, Hayden and Brenda competed in roller skating until he was about 10 years old. The duo also competed on a precision team in Brazil.

When Hayden was 9 years old, he competed in the U.S. national roller skating competition, where he placed first in the Juvenile Boys Singles for ages 9-12.

“This just shows you the type of person that he is,” she said. “He has a drive that he doesn’t give up.”

In high school, Hayden also participated in four different choir groups but didn’t just play sports. For one of the groups, he placed third at the state competition at Central Washington University as a junior.

“Choir was almost a bigger thing than sports were,” he said.

As an involved high school senior with a high GPA, Hayden had options for where he could go to college but said he didn’t choose WSU until he visited with his parents. Both of his parents are WSU alumni.

Once he got to college, he decided to rush and has been involved with the Sigma Epsilon fraternity ever since.

“That was super cool because it’s like, boom, automatically you have like 60 best friends,” Hayden said.

Brenda and he planned to travel to Spain in May but will reschedule the trip after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Instead, the family will celebrate at home.

Looking to the future

As the semester comes to an end, Hayden said he is ready to move on to the next chapter of his life.

He will be a project manager in the aerospace department for Janicki Industries. He said he still plans to be available for his parents to help on the farm.

Hayden became interested in mechanical engineering when he was young. His father would fix all of their equipment himself, and even make suggestions on how the engineers could improve their designs, Hayden said.

“He was willing to try just about anything that he had an interest in,” Brenda said. “He wasn’t ever afraid to try something new.”