ST. ALBANS — Hailey Savage, a senior at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, was one of two BFA students to be awarded a VSADA Athletic Scholar Award on November 5th.
The award recognizes top scholar-athletes in the state of Vermont who display excellence in both athletics and academics.
"Hailey is one of those kids that every coach wants on their team. She is coachable, fully committed, and cares about everyone on the team," said Mary Pipes, coach of the BFA girls' varsity lacrosse team.
"She is fun to be around and has a very uplifting attitude. Hailey is a terrific team captain, and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind but it’s always respectful. She is also a stellar goalie."
Isaac Ryea, goalie coach for the Comet lacrosse team, also had kind words for Savage.
“I can’t say enough about Hailey’s work ethic. She’s one of those people that when a coach says “jump” she will ask how high," said Ryea.
"I would consider her to be the ideal type of athlete to have on any team. She is driven, hard-working, a compassionate leader and on top of all that, a top tier athlete at her respective sports.”
Luke Cioffi, coach of the Comets' hockey team, has known Savage since she was a little girl.
"Hailey would bring cupcakes to her brother's youth hockey team I was coaching!" said Cioffi. "I gave her the nickname 'cupcake girl' way back then."
"Hailey is a person with integrity, sincerity, passion, and a drive to do her very best. Hailey has a top-notch work ethic and an ability to maximize her opportunities," said Cioffi. "Her solid understanding of the mental and tactical side of the game allows her to have some advantages over her competitors.
"Her positive work ethic and willingness to do anything for the team have made her an integral part of the Comet's success on the ice and on the lacrosse field."
"As a junior, she was one of the captains of a veteran hockey team. The coaches know that she will always give her very best effort in any role we ask her to fill."
"What separates Hailey from her peers is her willingness to volunteer her time for community causes," said Cioffi.
"Hailey has been volunteering with the SASA Special Needs hockey since the first day of the program. Her positive encouragement and ability to motivate our athletes have been greatly appreciated by our team and parents."
The desire to help others is dear to Savage, who plans to attend UVM in the fall of 2020.
"I really like working with kids with special needs, and I'm thinking about studying occupational therapy and focusing on special needs."
Savage submitted an essay written on the VSADA topic of the year: How have high school athletics affected your life.
"I'm not the star athlete on my teams, but I've learned you can impact the team by having the best attitude and effort," said Savage. "I've used those same lessons in my life outside of sports as well."
Savage presented a speech the night of the award ceremony; she chose to speak about athletes and mental health, a topic that's been close to the hearts of the BFA athletic community.
BFA athletic director Dan Marlow recalled the speech Savage gave.
"Hailey she spent most of her time encouraging others to reach out for help and to help others. Her speech had nothing to do with her or any of her accomplishments. She was thinking of others."
Marlow smiled as he spoke of Savage.
"Hailey is honest, kind, and compassionate and brings a smile to your face," said Marlow. "She holds herself to a high standard, but never at the expense of anyone else. She's one of the most unselfish kids I've ever met."
"She told me she knew she wouldn't be the best athlete, but she could be the best teammate."
Last year, Savage had the opportunity to see her good friend Elena Clark earn a VSADA award last year.
"Elena and I played lacrosse together," said Savage. "She has the best attitude and I looked up to her. She also works really hard in everything she does. She was an inspiration to me."
Growing up in the Comet community gave Savage plenty of memories; many centered around Comet athletics.
"I remember attending Comet hockey games as a kid and thinking the Comet players seemed so old," said Savage.
Savage recalled longing for the coveted rubber chicken in the days of her youth.
"The rubber chicken was a prize for winning a shoot out," said Savage. "I wanted to win that!"
Consistency, according to Savage, is key for the Comets.
"The coaches are so involved with youth athletics that the transition to high school is much easier," said Savage.
"The same values are present from the youth teams to the Comets," said Savage, thoughtfully. "We've been Comets for a long time, we just finally got the title our freshman year."
This year the Comet hockey program will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
"There's a meaning to being a Comet, and I'm honored to be on the team," said Savage. "It's really cool to think about how this program has grown, and it's amazing how many people support the team."