Sydney Eddy, Safia Sheik, and Jake McRae, all members of BYU-Hawaii sports teams, were named and given awards in the PacWest Conference. They each shared their joy and gratitude for playing for BYUH, as well as their feelings towards athletics finishing.
This past November, Sydney Eddy, an alumna who recently graduated in advertising and journalism from Tennessee, was named PacWest Women's Soccer Newcomer of the Year and was also named to the All-PacWest Second Team. She led the Lady Seasiders in goals and points, according to the BYU-Hawaii Athletics website. She played in both the mid-field and forward positions.
“I started off the season not feeling entirely like myself,” said Eddy. “Coach Dan really invested a lot of energy and belief in me. I began playing with confidence again. I think that is why these awards mean so much to me. The coaching staff and my teammates really inspired me to grow both as a person, as well as a player. My game got quicker, and better, with those people encouraging me along the way.
“The awards are a tangible metaphor for that journey that I took with my coaches and teammates to get to that place of confidence.”
Eddy said she felt both proud and humbled to be recognized for her work on the field. She gives credit to her amazing coaches and teammates and said they are the biggest reason she was able to receive any award.
Eddy said she has been playing soccer since she was about three years old, making 20 years now, and she loves playing because it is a mind over body experience. Her brain shuts off and her body takes over, she said, which is extremely freeing and awakening.
“Playing for BYUH was an amazing experience. I played three years for a D1 school in the Southeastern Conference. Although that was an awesome opportunity, it was also one that threatened my love for the game. Coming to Hawaii and playing for Dan allowed me to regain my confidence as a player, and reminded me of the sport that I fell in love with as a child,” she said.
Being a part of the last season of BYUH soccer is an honor, said Eddy. “I believe that our team closed out the program on a really great note. I just wish that we could have had one last season together. We really began to mesh towards the middle of conference play. Another season with this team and I truly believe that we would have taken a conference title.”
Eddy overcame a hamstring injury that occurred in the beginning of the season. She exclaimed, “That hamstring was so dang annoying! I strained it at the beginning of the season and had to sit out for two weeks. It was nagging and sore for the rest of my games, but there was no way that I was going to let it be an issue. I was having too much fun playing!”
Now that she is back home in Tennessee, Eddy said she is working to save money to prepare for an internship in Stockholm, Sweden.
She said, “I have moments where I feel this enormous wave of nostalgia rushing over me. I imagine myself fixing my socks and lacing up my cleats, and my heart can't help but burn just a bit. Though, this past season will always remain as such a significant memory for me, so I also feel joy when I look back on what we did as a team.”
Safia Sheikh, a junior in psychology from Denmark and junior guard for the Lady Seasiders Basketball Team, was named Pacific West Conference Player of the Week after the team returned from a road trip in North California.
When she found out she had won the award, Safia said she was happy. “I was grateful that my teammates made me look that good. Everyone on the team has the ability to do as well. Without being passed the ball there is no way that I would've done as well as I did. So really this award is not for me... it's for my teammates. They made me look good. I was just lucky to execute the opportunities they provided me with,” she said.
Sheikh said her at BYUH has been nothing but great. “BYU-Hawaii is amazing. My teammates and the student-body make me feel so welcome. In the five months I've been here, I haven't met one person that wasn't cheerful and excited about the success of others. The environment that I live in on a daily basis, makes it easier for me to stay positive and strive to be the best that I can be, as well as wanting to help others become the best that they possibly become.”
Sheikh said she has been playing basketball since she was 10 years old, adding up to about 12 years. She said, “I love that there's always a new level to explore. Also, I like how it is so diverse. Basketball is not just about being skilled and being a great athlete. It's about being smart.
“However, what I love about basketball is that it is for everyone. Everyone can play ball. I've stuck with basketball because it provides great opportunities in terms of adventures and meeting new people who will affect your life in a way you never dared to dream of.”
Playing in the very last season is bittersweet, said Sheikh. “It's amazing being able to end of this program the way that we want it to be remembered. It's an amazing opportunity to represent not only BYU, but also Hawaii. I am sad that this is the last season, because it means that I don't get to spend more than one year, playing with a ton of lovely people as well as being coached by wonderful individuals,” she said.
Jake McRae, a former senior in human resources from Utah and forward on the men’s soccer team, was selected to the All-PacWest Second Team. He is also “the only player in BYU-Hawaii men's soccer history to score double-digit goals in an individual season and holds the career goals record with 24,” according to the BYUH Athletics website.
Concerning his selection, McRae said, “Truthfully, I was a little disappointed. I got All-PacWest First Team in 2015 so naturally my goals are going to be set just a little bit higher the next year. I'm bummed that I got the bid to the lower team, but it's still an honor nonetheless. Playing in the PacWest was a great experience. One I wouldn't ever forget.”
McRae said it was a dream of his to be a captain for a solid college program. “I was looking forward to it the minute the 2015 season ended. It didn't end the way I would have liked for the team and myself, but I know many of them would say it was an honor to wear that Seasider jersey for the last time. I'd agree with them 100 percent.”
Although he does not attend BYUH any longer, McRae said he enjoyed his time playing on the men’s soccer team. He said, “I absolutely loved playing for Coach Mark Davis in 2015. Our team worked for each other, and I believe that is what got us to finish in the top end of the conference. Had we clicked together sooner, who knows what we would've accomplished that year.
“The potential was the same with our new head coach, Dan Dümmar. We had a very skilled and talented team in 2016. For one reason or another we couldn't keep a lead and struggled to win. For whatever reason, I walked away from the season with 27 friends I would die for. It may not be the same for them, but what we went through as a team strengthened us individually and collectively.”
McRae said he started playing soccer when he was seven years old and hasn't taken a single year off besides serving a two-year mission in Raleigh, North Carolina. He said, “I personally love the thrill of scoring a goal. I love building relationships through soccer. These friendships are built on trust, integrity, and hard work. The friends you make through soccer stay with you for life. It's a different kind of friendship.
“I have mixed feelings about athletics being finished. I'm sad that the tradition we've created won't get passed down. Though, I am happy I was apart of the group that finished it as strong as we could.”
As for his future, McRae said, “I'm going to play soccer with my friends, have fun while doing it, and receive a bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University. Afterwards, I'll get a job somewhere in an HR department.”