Athlete of the week: Hazell Chavez is a rising star for Troup soccer

Published 4:12 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

Soccer runs in the Chavez family blood. Hazell Chavez is the next in line to carry on the family tradition as a rising star for Troup’s girls soccer team.

“The only goal I set for myself this season was making sure I build connections with the girls because this is my first year here,” the sophomore said. “I don’t want to come in and make it about me and try to score a bunch of goals or just sit off to the side and be quiet. I want to be a part of the team.”

Chavez is a Swiss Army knife for the Tigers. Whether it is playing in goal, defense, midfield or in the attack, she can fill any role that coach Carolyn Harkness asks of her.

“I started going through all the different positions as I got older,” Chavez said. “I went from playing as a defender going to striker going back to midfield and then going right back to defense.”

Versatility is the name of the game for Chavez, but she started out playing goalkeeper just like her father.

“My dad was a really good goalkeeper in high school and my uncle currently plays semi-pro soccer,” Chavez said. “My dad’s side of the family loves soccer, and they got me playing competitively back in 2014.

“I’ve loved soccer practically since I came out of the womb. My grandpa was also a big soccer player, and he was the one that got all the kids to play it.”

It has been a transition year for Chavez, who spent her freshman year at LaGrange High where she served as the heir apparent at goalkeeper. While it was a bit nerve-racking to transfer schools across town at first, the coaches and players on the girls soccer team made it an easy transition.

“There was not one person on the team that I felt like I couldn’t go to if I needed anything from day one,” Chavez said. 

It has been an up-and-down year for the Tigers so far as they sit at 2-4-1 on the season. Chavez has stepped up in a big way multiple times this season, none more so than when she scored four goals to power Troup to a 6-1 win over Valley (AL).

“That game we all came together and really played our parts, and it finally felt like a game where we showed what we are about as a team,” Chavez said. 

Despite just being a sophomore, Chavez is one of the more experienced girls on the team. This has led to her taking on more responsibilities and leadership than she did as a freshman at LaGrange.

“A lot of the girls know what they are doing, they just don’t always have the confidence to do it,” she said. “Really we lead each other as a team. We have faith in our coaches and each other.”

One of the reasons Chavez is so experienced is the fact that she plays soccer practically year-round. When she is not suiting up for the high school team, she is playing travel ball with her club.

“In high school soccer, you really have to come together and be a family while in club it is more about showing your skills as an individual,” she said. “Playing club is fun too, but there is something special about playing for your high school.”

Chavez is far from a finished product. The sophomore is still improving and adding layers to her game. Her plan is to play competitive soccer as long as she can and what has Troup so fired up is that she is just getting started.