By the time the school year ends, Ellie Heiden will likely go down in Washington State track and field history for winning the most career gold medals at the state championship meet.
But Heiden will always hold a special place in her heart for the silver medal she received as a member of the 2013 Kamiakin girls soccer team.
“That second place means way more than all the (individual) track ones do,” said Heiden, who has won 12 golds — 10 individual and two team — as a member of the Braves’ track and field team. “In soccer, you have to rely on everyone way more than track. We all got that second place. We did well together in every single game.”
Heiden, the Mid-Columbia Conference player of the year, finished fifth in league scoring with 12 goals and led the MCC with 14 assists, a tribute to her improved playmaking skills. But Braves coach Chris Erikson believes Heiden’s desire to score was the difference for her.
“You can have kids with all the skills in the world, but there aren’t that many with the desire to get in there and finish,” Erikson said of the Herald’s All-Area player of the year. “You can be fast, but if you don’t have the desire to score goals, you’re not going to be doing the things Ellie did.”
Heiden proved that desire in the postseason, scoring four more goals in seven playoff games, including game-winning goals in the Class 3A regional championship (a 2-1 overtime win over Mt. Spokane) and an even bigger one in a 2-1 semifinal win over Bellevue.
“After I saw it cross the line, I thought, ‘Do I cry? Do I scream? I didn’t know,’ ” she said. “Then I thought, wait, what if (the officials) think I’m offsides? My brain didn’t even stop thinking until he blew his whistle.”
Heiden was a picture of determination up to the very end, willing her aching body through nearly every minute of every game despite injuries that could have — maybe even should have — stopped her from playing.
“Right now, I’m trying to get fixed up for track,” she said before reciting a litany of injuries to her tiny frame. “Let’s start from the bottom. I have both arches collapsing, shin splints, my calves are tight, my knees have to be adjusted, (I have) a sciatic nerve injury from two years ago. My lower back is a mess. I have to get that adjusted twice a week.”
She wasn’t done.
“My hip flexor is flaring up. My neck and hips are 12 millimeters off from each other,” she said. “And in the last game (2-1 championship loss to Liberty), I got punched in the jaw. I can’t chew gum for two (more) weeks.”
She did get some relief just after Thanksgiving, making a verbal commitment to BYU to run track.
Erikson, the Herald coach of the year, will remember the resilience of her team in overcoming injuries and sweeping Mt. Spokane out of the state playoffs a year after going 0-2 against the Wildcats in the postseason.
“There was a real determination by these kids from the get-go,” Erikson said. “I’ll just remember the character of these players. A lot of humor, intensity, focus and camaraderie. I think you play better when you have that.”
It was Heiden’s third appearance on the All-Area first team. She is joined by five other repeat first-teamers: Braves’ teammates Lauren McKinney and Brianna Turley, Richland midfielder Andes Archibald, Hanford goalkeeper Emily Busselman and Southridge midfielder Hannah Sanders.
Rounding out the first team is Southridge midfielder Michelle Foster and defender Bree Lane; Chiawana defender Lexi Ellingsen and forward Alexis Stephenson; Hanford defender Bret Baysinger and midfielder Sydney Shintaffer; Richland forward Samantha Heilman and Connell forward Brittany Vickerman.
MVP: Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
Coach of the Year: Chris Erikson, Kamiakin
F: Samantha Heilman, soph., Richland
F: Alexis Stephenson, jr., Chiawana
F: Brittany Vickerman, sr., Connell
MF: Hannah Sanders, sr., Southridge
MF: Michelle Foster, sr., Southridge
MF: Andes Archibald, sr., Richland
MF: Sydney Shintaffer, sr., Hanford
MF: Brianna Turley, sr., Kamiakin
D: Bret Baysinger, sr., Hanford
D: Lexi Ellingsen, sr., Chiawana
D: Bree Lane, sr., Southridge
D: Lauren McKinney, sr., Kamiakin
GK: Emily Busselman, sr., Hanford
F: Braydey Hodgins, soph., Chiawana
F: Rilee Castilla, fr., Kamiakin
F: Mercedes Haberling, jr., Southridge
F: Cynthia Cyd-Bertran, sr., Royal
F: Micki Williams, sr., Mabton
MF: BryLee Whitney, sr., Warden
MF: Makensie Forsyth, sr., Prosser
MF: Hannah Templeton, soph., Kennewick
MF: Colette Gall, sr., Hanford
MF: Megan Zimmerman, jr., Pasco
D: Heather Donais, soph., Kamiakin
D: Rachel Ensign, soph., Kamiakin
GK: Cydni Cottrell, soph., Chiawana
Best of the rest: GK: Deianeira Caudle, sr., Warden; Erin Leseberg, soph., Kamiakin. D: Hannah Lea, jr., Richland; Sara Burns, jr., Kamiakin; Elisa Hernandez, sr., Royal; Fatima Romero, jr., Wahluke; Selby English, sr., Connell. MF: Emily Thornton, soph., Kiona-Benton; Sabrina Acevedo, jr., Kiona-Benton; Jackie Guadarrama, jr., Royal; Maricela Chavez, sr., Mabton. F: McKaley Goffard, fr., Southridge; Jennifer Mendoza, soph., Warden.