3 | I Love Hayden Starr
I walked into school with a huge smile on my face. Only two weeks left of school and life couldn’t get any better. When I got to my locker, Demi was standing by it, waiting for me.
“What’s the big smile for?” She asked.
“Four things.” I grinned and held up a finger. “Two weeks left of school.” I held up a second. “My Dad got work off for tomorrow.” I held up a third. “My mom let me drive to school. And last, but not least…” I held up a fourth finger but before I could say anything three girls rushed up.
Two of them I knew from classes, but I had no idea who the third was. They were all wearing “I Love Hayden Starr” shirts. Shocked, I gave Demi a questioning glance, but she shrugged.
Rachel, the girl from my biology class, gave me a hopeful smile. “Can we get a picture with you, Hayden?” she asked.
I smiled at her. “Yeah! Sure!”
“I’ll take it.” Demi offered. Rachel handed her phone to Demi and the girls gathered around me while Demi took the picture.
“Thank you so much Hayden!” The girl from Econ, Marie, said.
“Of course!” I hugged each of them and they left, huge smiles on their faces.
“Oh my gosh! Hayden!” Demi looked at me excitedly.
“What?” I was sure she was freaking out about their shirts, but it didn’t seem that big a deal.
“You were popular before.” She murmured. “But now? Now you’re a freaking celebrity!”
I laughed. “No Demi, I’m not.” I grabbed some things out of my locker. “I’m sure they were the only ones.”
Demi raised her eyebrows. “Seriously Hayden? Look around!”
I did, and my smile was replaced by a look of shock. About half the people in sight were wearing “I Love Hayden Starr” shirts or #3 shirts.
“What the heck?” I wasn’t sure if I was happy-shocked or worried-shocked. I didn’t know how to be a celebrity. Even if it was probably going to be short-lived.
It also didn’t seem fair that the whole team worked so hard to win, but I was the only one getting attention. My thoughts must’ve shown on my face because Demi put an arm around my shoulders.
“Don’t worry Hay. The whole team supports you.” The bell rang and Demi linked arms with me as we started down the hall. “Yes, we all work hard, but no one works as hard as you and if someone can’t see that, well…” She paused. “Send them to me and I’ll deal with them.”
We both laughed. “Thanks Dem.” We’d reached my classroom and I turned to go in the room.
“Wait!” Demi grabbed my arm. “What was the fourth thing?”
I laughed. “Oh yeah! I got a waitressing job at the café by my house.”
“Oh my gosh!” Demi squealed. “I love that place!”
My teacher stuck her head out the door. “We’re waiting for you, Hayden.” She said.
“Oops! See ya!” Demi darted down the hall.
I laughed. “See you in Econ!” I called after her.
The rest of the day, everywhere I went people treated me differently than usual. They stared and waved, asked to get pictures with me, took pictures and videos without permission, one girl even asked me for my autograph. I was truly a celebrity.
It was crazy. I was just like them, but for some reason they didn’t see that anymore. Even my teachers were a bit extra. Usually teachers are annoyed when you have to cut classes, especially when it’s so close to the end of the year, but they didn’t mind at all when I told them that I was not going to be in school the next day. And then there was Mr. Kendall, who told the whole math class that I’d gotten ANOTHER “A” on last week’s test.
Econ was the last class before lunch, and by the time I got there it was all getting pretty frustrating. Everyone was treating me like I was extra special, even my friends. I really needed to talk to Demi, but she didn’t show. She’d been skipping classes a lot recently and I was sure she was seeing a guy. It hurt a little that she was hiding it from me, but I was more worried that she was going to get in trouble with only two weeks left in the year.
I checked my texts, but there was nothing from Demi, just a few dozen from other random people. I sighed. I was getting so many notifications all the time that it was getting hard to sort through what I cared about, and what was just MVP/Championship craze. I texted Demi.
H: Where are you?
“Hayden!” Ms. Denton smiled at me. “Please put your phone away.”
I slipped my phone into my backpack. “Sorry.”
As soon as the bell rang for lunch, I pulled my phone back out. There were no calls or texts from Demi. Sighing, I headed to my locker. Maybe she’d be at the cafeteria.
She wasn’t. I called her, twice, but she didn’t answer either time.
“Hey Superstar.” I glanced up from my phone to see Kevan standing there with his lunch tray. I gave him a look.
“Don’t tell me you’ve lost all comprehension that I’m a normal person too.” I said, tucking my phone in my waistband.
He grinned. “Actually, I was hoping I could get a picture with you.”
“Seriously?” I rolled my eyes.
He laughed. “No not really. I was just wondering if I could sit with you and Demi.” He glanced around. “Where is Demi?”
I sighed. “I was hoping maybe you could tell me that.”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “No idea. Is it okay if I sit with you then?” He asked.
“I still have to get food, but sure.” I told him. “Go find a spot and I’ll be right there.”
Kevan grinned and headed off to find a spot while I got in the food line.
“Hi Hayden!” Kaylee, one of my teammates got in line behind me. “How’s life?”
For some reason, I almost felt like bursting into tears. Until this moment, I hadn’t really realized how all the attention was draining me and now, one of my friends was finally treating me normally. I took a deep breath and grinned.
“You know, life’s boring without soccer. What about you?”
She grinned. “It’s great!” She dropped her voice a little. “I got a call this morning from a recruiter at Michigan State! He wants to talk to me about a scholarship.”
I hugged her. “That’s awesome!” I really meant it, but the wheels started spinning inside my head.
Kaylee was a sophomore, like me. Why was she being approached by recruiters before me? I was co-captain and MVP. I pushed the thoughts out of my head. It wasn’t all about me. I mean, this was what I wanted, right? To be treat normally, like I was before I was MVP.
“Is Michigan State the place you want to go?” I asked Kaylee.
She shrugged. “I haven’t really thought a lot about college very much. I was just so surprised when I got that call.”
“Yeah, my parents just recently started talking to me about college.” I told her.
“It just seems so far away.” Kaylee said.
“Yeah!” We reached the end of the line. “Do you want to sit with Kevan and I?” I asked her.
“Sure!” She gave me an odd look. “Are you guys dating?”
I laughed. “No, we’re just friends.” I knew when I danced with him at that party and then agreed to sit with him just now that rumors would start, but we were so close to the end of the school year and then everyone would forget, so I didn’t care.
When we got to Kevan’s table, there were two other guys sitting there.
“I hope you don’t mind, I let Nolan and Zayne sit here.” Kevan said to me.
“As long as you don’t mind that I invited Kaylee.” I said with a grin.
“Hi Kevan.” Kaylee smiled timidly at him. I slid in across from Kevan, and Kaylee sat down next to me.
As soon as I took my first bite, my phone buzzed. Demi was calling me. “Give me minute.” I said to everyone. I got up from the table and answered it. “Where are you?”
“I’m so sorry!” Demi moaned. “I forgot to tell you I had a dentist appointment today.”
“Are you back at school yet?” I asked.
“I’m on my way.”
“You’d better hurry.” I checked the time. “You don’t’ have that long until classes start again.”
“Yeah, I won’t be late.” Demi said.
“Are you coming to my house after school?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Demi paused. “I have to help my mom with some things right after school, but maybe after that.”
“Okay.” I glanced back at the table, where everyone was laughing. “Just let me know.”
“I will. Bye”
“Bye.” I hung up and walked back to the table. “What are we talking about?” I asked, sitting back down.
“Kevan was talking about your soccer championship.” Nolan said. “You were really great, Hayden.”
I laughed. “Were you even there?”
Nolan and Zander grinned. “Nolan and I weren’t.” Zander said. “But Kevan told us everything.”
I looked to Kevan, a huge smile on my face.
He raised his hands. “You can’t blame me, I’m a big soccer fan.” He said innocently.
We all laughed.
“No, but seriously.” Kevan said. “You were great. You too, Kaylee.” He smiled at her.
Kaylee blushed. “Thanks, Kevan.”
I glanced at Kevan, who was finishing his burger, and then back at Kaylee, who was watching Kevan. I grinned. Kaylee totally had a crush on Kevan.
“I’ll bet Kevan will eat the rest of that.” I said to Kaylee, pointing at her half-eaten burger that she’d discarded.
Kevan and Kaylee both looked at me.
“What?” I laughed. “You’re not going to finish it.” I said to Kaylee.
Kevan gave me an odd look and then looked at Kaylee, who was once again blushing. “If you don’t want it, I’ll eat it.” He told her.
Kaylee’s eyes widened. “You don’t have to.” She said.
Kevan shook his head. “No, I want to.”
Kaylee pushed her tray across the table and Kevan took the burger. I grinned. I knew my matchmaking skills sucked, but that exchange was priceless.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. “Hayden.” I turned and saw that it was Coach.
“Hey, what’s up?” I asked him.
Coach glanced at everyone else and then back at me. “I know you’re missing school tomorrow, so meet me on the field last period.”
“I have English Lit.” I told him.
“I’ll talk to your teacher.” He said. “Just be there.” With that, he turned and left.
“Where are you going to be tomorrow?” Kevan asked.
I shook my head. “It’s nothing, just a family thing.”
“So, you’ll miss practice?” Kaylee asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably why Coach wants me today.”
Tomorrow was supposed to be the last practice of the season, so I had no doubt that whatever Coach had planned for me today would be tough.
My phone never stopped blowing up and by the time last period came around, I was going crazy. I stood in the empty locker room and checked my notifications. Almost six hundred in the last hour. I groaned and tossed my phone into the bottom of my backpack.
When I got to the soccer field, Coach was there, waiting for me. “Okay Hayden,” He dumped the bag of soccer balls out. “We’re going to warm up with some drills, but first,” He pointed to the ground. “Get stretching while we talk.”
I got on the ground and started stretching while he continued.
“Recruiters are going to start coming around any day.” He told me. I thought of Kaylee. “I’m sure you know of some of your teammates who have already had offers, but Hayden,” Coach paused and waited for me to look at him. “Forget all of that.”
I nodded and pushed everything out of my head.
Coach knelt down by me. “Have you thought about what you want to do in college?” He asked.
I looked at him. “You mean whether of not I want to play soccer?”
Coach smiled. “Yes and no. There’s a lot to think about and a lot of questions to answer.”
“You are good enough that you could pursue soccer as a career.” He told me. “But only if that’s what you really want. I want you to think about everything. Talk to your parents about it.” He stood up and gave me a hand up. “I’m talking to you about this now because once you sign a contract with a school, it’s hard to get out of it.” He picked up one of the balls. “It’s one of the reasons they come recruit you as a sophomore. Not only do they want to get you before someone else does, but they want to get you off guard, when the idea of a scholarship sounds like a dream come true.” He paused. “They want to get you to sign something before you’ve really thought about it all.”
I nodded. “My parents and I have been talking a little about college.”
“Just don’t rush into anything.” He said. “You’re good. Really good. But that’s what makes everything complicated. Make sure you are one-hundred percent sure you know what you want before you do anything. Ask questions.” He tossed me the ball. “Now let’s see just how good you really are.”
Practice was definitely not easy. Coach had me do a bunch of different drills, sprints, and runs. He even had me go one-on-one against him. He had played professional soccer for six years after college and now, four years later, he was still in very good shape.
We still had fifteen minutes left in the period when he called me over. “Great job, Hayden. You worked hard today.” He patted me on the back. “I’m letting you out early. Go home and enjoy the off-season. But,” He pointed a finger at me. “Keep practicing on your own.”
I grinned and nodded. “I will.”
“And don’t forget what we talked about.” He added.
“Yeah.” I gave him a hug. “Thanks, Coach.”
I went back to the locker room and showered and was on my way out when Principal Freeman stuck his head out of his office.
“Hayden, can I talk to you in here for a moment?” He asked me.
“Sure.” I said slowly. I had no idea what I’d done. But then, maybe I hadn’t done anything, and he just wanted a picture with me. I smiled at the thought.
“This will be quick.” He told me as I entered his office. He shut the door and sat down at his desk. “I wanted to talk to you about Demi Ruud.” He said.
I frowned. “What about her?”
“I know you and Demi are close.” He said. “Demi has been missing a lot of classes recently.” He picked up a paper from his desk. “Twenty times this last month, to be exact.”
I started. That was once a day! I had no idea it was that much.
Principal Freeman continued. “I can see you didn’t know about this.”
I nodded. “I knew she was missing a few, but I had no idea…”
He nodded. “It’s unacceptable. I talked to Demi a few weeks ago, but her behavior has not changed.” He set the paper back down. “Her grades are low and if she continues this, I’m going to have to hold her back.”
I stared at him. “What do you want me to do?”
He sighed. “There are two weeks of school left. Demi must attend every class unless I hear from her mom personally. She also must not get lower than seventy percent on more than one of her final exams.”
I nodded. It was completely reasonable, considering Demi’s recent behavior. “So you want me to encourage and help her?” I asked.
He nodded. “I’ll talk to Demi in a few minutes, but I’m telling you this because I know the kind of leader you are and I know that if anyone can turn her around, it’s you.”
“I’ll do everything I can.”
Principal Freeman smiled. “I know you will.
When I got home, a car I’d never seen before was parked in front of the house. I walked in the front door and heard my mom’s voice in the other room.
“Mom! I’m home!” I called, heading to my room.
“Hi Hayden! We’re in the living room!” She called back.
“Who’s we?” I walked into the living room and stopped. A man I’d never seen before was sitting on the couch across from Mom.
The man stood up. “Hi Hayden.” He stepped forward and held out his hand. “My name is Matt Diego. I’m the assistant head coach for the women’s soccer team at UCLA. I’m here because we would like to offer you a full academic scholarship to play for us when you graduate.”
Does anyone think they know what will happen? What about Kevan and Kaylee? From the little you know about them, is that a relationship that should be pursued?
Let me know in the comments! :)