UA soccer player Hope Hisey has never gotten a grade lower than an “A” in her life, and she wasn’t about to let a worldwide pandemic and a case of the coronavirus break that streak.
Hisey, 19, is one of 91 University of Arizona student-athletes who earned a 4.0 GPA last fall. Wildcats players posted a cumulative 3.095 GPA, their best fall-semester mark ever.
“I’ve never gotten a ‘B’ ever. It’s like a personal pride thing for me,” said Hisey, a sophomore majoring in political science and minoring in journalism. “If I didn’t play soccer, I would probably be in one of those crazy STEM majors, but I decided that wouldn’t have worked well with soccer.”
On Thursday — Hisey, a goalkeeper and Canyon del Oro High School alum — will take the field with her teammates for the Wildcats’ first game of the season. Having been introduced to soccer as an 8 year old, Hisey said her favorite thing about the sport is the support system and friendships she has built with her teammates.
And with an extra year of eligibility coming due to the pandemic, Hisey is already looking into an accelerated masters program in political science or public policy and administration. She’d like to eventually earn a doctorate in political science.
“After that, I’m not exactly sure where life will take me, but I definitely want to continue to be a part of politics in the future once my playing career is over,” Hisey said.
Hisey’s career aspirations formed her junior year in high school, after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooting killed 17, wounded 17 — and has motivated a new generation of teens to fight for causes that matter to them.
“I saw those kids who had witnessed that trauma come out and be brave and try to push policy that they felt affected their lives,” Hisey said. “I was inspired by that, and I’ve been interested in politics ever since.”
It makes sense that Hisey is planning ahead, because that’s a big part of how she has maintained her longstanding tradition of straight A’s: Meticulous planning.
“I have a planner that I am tied to; it’s like my best friend,” Hisey said. “Every day, I map out just a little bit of the things I have to do. I look at what I have due for classes, what readings have to do.”
Hisey said she plans each month in advance to ensure that she’s left enough time for her classwork in between practice, games and travel and that assignments don’t pile up.
While the pandemic wreaked havoc on the Wildcats’ soccer season, Hisey said that the transition to online classes was easy. Her professors did a good job of keeping students engaged and making classes work in an online format.
Soccer, on the other hand, hasn’t been as smooth.
The day after Hisey reported to campus last August, the season was postponed to spring. Some players opted out of the semester altogether; those who stayed either did conditioning work or practiced, depending on the day.
“Our coaches said, ‘If you’re going to be here, we’re going to make you better; but if you need to be home, we understand and we’ll regroup in January,’ ” Hisey said. “Now we have a season to prepare for, and it looks a little more normal.”
The new normal includes limited travel. The Wildcats will take on Grand Canyon Thursday night in Phoenix, and have away games against Oregon and Oregon State scheduled for March. The schedule is subject to change, like all things these days, but Hisey doesn’t care when — or where — they play. She’s just happy to be back in the game.
The team has been preparing for the season since January. The Wildcats practice in masks, and only get to spend time with each other during practice.
“Other than that, it’s been as normal as possible,” Hisey said. “We still do film, we lift (weights) once a week and we get to go out onto the field. It just looks different off the field.”
Hisey said the fall semester was tough on the team. With no games to prepare for, the uncertainty took a mental toll on Hisey and others.
Still, she marched through it, focusing on her classes and patiently working her way through the slow build to a normal practice with her team. In November, the athletic department’s medical team gave the go-ahead for the team to move up from 7-on-7 to a full scrimmage.
Right as things were starting to look up, Hisey was exposed to COVID-19.
“I had a tertiary exposure, so I didn’t have that bad of a case, but I was still bedridden for a couple days,” Hisey said. “I lost my sense of taste and I still don’t really have my sense of smell. I had fatigue and headaches and congestion.”
She was exposed through her roommate who contracted the virus from her mom. Hisey was placed in quarantine on Nov. 5 and tested positive on Nov. 8; that was the end of her semester with the soccer team.
“It really didn’t affect me academic-wise,” Hisey said, adding that she attended online classes from her bed.
When Hisey was medically cleared, she returned to the weight room to get back into shape for the upcoming season.
And while the rest of the team is undergoing coronavirus testing three times a week, Hisey gets to skip that — for now.
“It was not a fun experience, but I’m fortunate that I only had a mild case,” Hisey said. She’s happy to be back with her teammates and her planner is already filling up.
Her advice to students looking to achieve a 4.0 of their own?
“Time management,” she said. “Write things down, even if it’s not on actual paper, but start a Google doc or spreadsheet and just put everything in. And talk to your professors. They are more than understanding about the circumstances that we’re in.”
Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at email@example.com or 573-4191. On Twitter: @caitlincschmidt