2014: Hayley Romo
2013: Miranda Caballero
2012: Maile Keanu
2011: Kelsey Callaghan
2010: Riley Dopps
2009: Stephanie Osterdahl
2008: Kaileigh Westermann
2007: Madison Rousell
2006: Madison Rousell
2005: Brittany Miller
2004: Stephanie Davison
She is not deterred by challenges.
During soccer season, South Kitsap senior Hayley Romo was asked to learn a new position — right-center mid. And with the Wolves’ fastpitch team, she played one of the most demanding positions, shortstop, on the field.
In both sports, Romo was a first-team all-Class 4A Narrows League selection at her position.
For those reasons — coupled with an impressive academic portfolio — Romo has been selected as the Port Orchard Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year.
“She’s just a very steady; very smart player,” said former South girls soccer coach Julie Cain, who used Romo as a starter at defensive-center mid since midway through the 2011 season until she moved as a senior. “Until she got injured, she was our leading scorer. She’s just a versatile player.”
Romo was a three-sport athlete as a sophomore and junior for the Wolves, but that ended when she suffered a bone bruise and sprained the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee Nov. 8 against Gig Harbor. That sidelined her for South’s first state-playoff games since she was a freshman in 2011. While that experience was difficult, Romo said she has positive memories of the season.
“That was honestly the best soccer season I’ve ever had at South,” she said. “The group of girls we had together … we had great chemistry.”
Romo’s injury prevented her from playing basketball for the first time since she was in seventh grade, but she felt the rest served her well during fastpitch season. That seemed to reflect in her offensive statistics as Romo finished with a .457 batting average, 11 doubles, four home runs and 28 RBI.
Her family has a strong pedigree on the diamond and Romo said it was a legacy she wanted to continue. She remembers spending many afternoons playing wiffle ball in the back yard with her father and older brother Tanner, a 2011 South graduate who is an infielder at Central Washington University.
“I wouldn’t be here without Tanner being a huge role model to me because I feel like I had to live up to a lot,” said Romo, adding that she is grateful for the “constant” family support she has received. “I always wanted to be better than him in a sense.”
Her resolve in the classroom, where Romo maintained a 3.8 grade-point average, is nothing less. Romo said maintaining a balance between academics and athletics requires discipline.
“It started in junior high,” she said. “I always was involved in select soccer. I do my homework that night no matter how late it is. I used to be a really bad procrastinator. I’ve learned that I can’t do that and get really good grades. It just doesn’t work.”
Romo, who plans to compete in both fastpitch and soccer at the University of Redlands in California, wants to major in biology or biochemistry with an eye toward a medical-related field. Romo said she could be a doctor or a veterinarian — she likes that both fields offer job stability.
“My grandma kind of inspired me because she was also a nurse,” Romo said. “At the house, if you got a scrape or did something she always knew what to do.”
But there is a bigger incentive for her to work in medicine — one that she illustrates on the playing field.
“I really like helping people,” Romo said. “That’s my thing.”