Gerken earns girls’ soccer POY honor

Published 2:37 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012

By ALDO AMATO / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY — Oak Mountain High School senior Haley Gerken has been named the Shelby County Reporter girls’ soccer Player of the Year after leading the Eagles to a state championship this spring.
Gerken, 17, had an amazing year as far as stats go. The Auburn commit scored 26 goals and recorded 25 assists.
Gerken said that fine tuning her offensive awareness and game helped her have strong play throughout the recent season.
“In the past I have normally played defensive mid,” Gerken said. “But with Toni Payne missing some games, I had to play more attacking mid this year than last year. But I think that my goals and assists increased a lot because of the players around me.”
The Eagles fought their way through injuries and missing key players in route to their first 6A State Championship. Gerken however played a key role in keeping the team grounded throughout a spectacular regular season by not only contributing offensively, but as a leader.
“My goal this year was to really step up into the leadership role,” she said. “It was amazing feeling to see our hard work pay off.”
Gerken’s father Mark said that he is proud to see his daughter continuing to do something she loves and watching her help others improve.
“I’m proud that she has stuck with soccer and has the aptitude to stick with it because it’s something she loves to do,” he said. “The way she coaches the younger players on the field and not yells at them but rather coach them is fantastic and it carries off the field.”
Gerken said that she is excited about playing at a high level at Auburn and humbled as well but said that she knows that she will have to make some adjustments to her game.
“It’s been a goal of mine to play in college,” she said. “And I know it’s going to be a lot harder but I am looking forward to it. Going to Auburn there are going to be so many girls better than I am but I know that is going to make me play better.”
Gerken said that the encouragement from her parents have helped her get to this point. But it was the calming nature of her older sister Shelbie who helped her remain focused.
“My sister is 10 years older than me but she’s always been there for me,” she said. “She’s always been an encourager and always been that person to talk to when I get frustrated so she’s been a big impact on me.”
Although his daughter will now be moving on to college, Mark Gerken said that he is confident that his daughter is ready for what lies ahead.
“To me the biggest thing was help them get back the car keys stage,” he said. “If you can get them past that stage, then they might have an opportunity to go someplace else and that is where Haley is right now.”
Gerken said that fine tuning her offensive awareness and game helped her have strong play throughout the recent season.



G – Ashleigh Niven, CHS, Sr.
D – Christina Rodriguez, OMHS, Sr.
D – Mara DeLuca, PHS, Jr.
D – Kristen Gehring, THS, Sr.
M – Alli Cochran, CHS, Sr.
M – Toni Payne, OMHS, Jr.
M – Sarah Smeltzer, BCS, Jr.
M – Haley Gerkin, OMHS, Sr.
F – Britne Holderby, CHS, Soph.
F – Simone Charley, SPHS, Jr.
F – Bailee Harnett, OMHS, Sr.

Honorable mention: OMHS: Vicki Hill, Jill Hester and Emma Roberson; PHS: Cassie Shiflett, Selina Delgadillo and Elizabeth Deyton; SPHS: Schyler Arnold, Gillian Garver and Haven Eddy; THS: Amber Harless, Alyssa Mayer and Hannah Oglesby; BCS: Catherine Cowen, Madison Pearson and Haley Hawkins ; CHS: Perri Lambert, Maya Highes and Mara Roberts; ISS: Laura McMullan, Jessica Hook and Paula Simonetti; CHS: Caitlin Ryan, Alexia Figueroa and Tia McCarter.