Haven Empey was en route to soccer practice at Brigham Young University when she got the call. It was the former American Fork High goalkeeper’s coach, Derek Dunn.
“He just called me really excited and said, ‘Dude, congrats!” said Empey, who was in the passenger’s seat at the time while her sister drove.
When Empey asked Dunn what the congratulations were for, Dunn broke it to her: She had just won the Gatorade Utah Girls Soccer Player of the Year award. She’s the second player from the school to win the award for girls’ soccer in the last three years.
Empey’s shutout against Davis in October helped the Cavemen win the 6A title. She was also on the 2017 team that won the championship. In her high school career, she recorded 53 wins and 26 shutouts.
“She is by far one of the hardest workers I know,” Dunn said. “Haven was always finding ways to train and finding every possible way to get better at her craft. She was always a leader and [we] could always go to her whenever we needed a morale boost.”
Empey credited everyone else involved in her team for putting her in position to win the Gatorade award.
“This award feels more like a team award than anything,” Empey said. “I’m luckier than most. My team is amazing. Not only my team, but my coaching staff is just unreal.”
Empey graduated from American Fork last winter and had been attending and playing for BYU since. The practices she’s been attending recently have been voluntary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Empey said the Cougars played a few games in the spring before the season was shut down. So far, being at the college level has been “hard.”
“I’ve always been up for a challenge and showing up, definitely was given one,” Empey said. “I showed up knowing it was going to be hard and knowing it was going to be something that would take a lot of time and effort. And everything I knew was trumped by 10, I think.”
But even with being in what she describes in a “whole new world” at BYU, she’s has already seen improvement.
“Even though I was there for a short amount of time before COVID hit, I felt like my game jumped immensely in that few months,” Empey said.