Not too long ago, Hilmar High's Haylee Bettencourt was content on moving more than 100 miles away from her family and friends to chase her college soccer dreams at UC Davis, a program with a coaching staff that didn't know what she was capable of.
“I don't think they knew my name,” she said.
It was a truth she had to accept, one that started after she tore her ACL in her left knee last season.
Her life changed immediately. She was once a solid college prospect, but all that evaporated after the injury. She then rehabbed, and stayed positive. It all helped her land a partial academic scholarship with the University of Pacific in Stockton and a chance to play midfield for the Tigers.
“You definitely really need to be determined and focused,” Bettencourt said about her journey. “I think how much you put in is how much you get out of it.”
Before this, she intended to enroll at UC Davis with an aim to try out for the women's soccer team.
But everything changed in the first-round game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs against Ripon High on May 18, which was an eventual 1-0 loss for the Yellowjackets.
UOP coach Keith Coleman was in attendance, unbeknownst to Bettencourt. Bettencourt and the Yellowjackets had their focus on finishing off the Indians. Coleman was there to watch his UOP recruit, Ripon forward Renae McFadden, but Coleman was also impressed by Bettencourt.
The next day, he fired off an e-mail to Bettencourt, telling her to enroll at UOP.
“If there was anybody that should receive a scholarship,” said her dad and coach, Louie Bettencourt, “it'd be her.”
Haylee Bettencourt was elated, as she joins older brother Adam Bettencourt (Sacramento State) in the world of college soccer.
“I believe it was destined that something would work out for me,” she said.
After having surgery on her knee, she had a stellar senior season. It ended with her third Western Athletic Conference MVP award in four years, as she completed her high school career with 101 goals and 84 assists.
She was also impressive off the field. Bettencourt was an A. Dale Lacky Scholarship winner, which is awarded for excellence in the classroom, the community and athletics. The honor helped her land a partial academic scholarship at UOP, a college about 50 miles away from home and a place where she can continue her soccer playing days.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.