Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling Arizona soccer’s 13 returners. First up: sophomore goalkeeper Hope Hisey.
Hope Hisey had big gloves to fill in 2019 and rose to the challenge, quite literally.
The springy goalkeeper earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors after making 64 saves and posting seven clean sheets, emerging as a formidable replacement for Arizona all-time shutouts leader Lainey Burdett.
Hisey, who split starts in the non-conference season before becoming the full-time starter in Pac-12 play, recorded shutouts in Arizona’s big wins over UCLA and Washington State—two Final Four teams.
That Hisey is a Wildcat is no surprise. She was born and raised in Tucson by parents who attended the UA in the 1980s. Her father Jason played baseball. Her mother Faith was Wilma Wildcat.
Before Hope enrolled at Arizona, she starred for FC Tucson and attended Canyon del Oro High School where she also played basketball, helping her develop the kind of athleticism that shows on the pitch when she’s collecting crosses and making acrobatic saves.
“Her vertical is very good. She saved us a lot with that,” said sophomore midfielder Madison Goerlinger. “She’s very quick, like in the Washington State game. She saved our butts a lot during that game, and it was just awesome seeing her play.”
Here’s a Q&A with Hisey, who will be competing with incoming freshmen Sami Hauk and Alani Mexia for the starting goalkeeping job in 2020.
Ryan Kelapire: How would you evaluate your freshman season?
Hope Hisey: “It was definitely a big learning experience for me, but I do feel like despite my inexperience I was able to contribute to the team winning and I’m just going to take all the lessons I learned from the rougher parts of the season into how I’m going to compete in the future.”
RK: What did you learn?
HH: “I definitely learned how mentally taxing it was and how it was really important to be mentally tuned in throughout the entire season and continue to have confidence through the ups and downs. I would say also making sure that your body is physically ready to play, as far as taking care of your muscles, recovering with the trainers, and proper nutrition.”
RK: What’s the next step for you as a player?
HH: “I definitely want to become more of a leader, just because goalkeeper is a natural leadership position. So, continuing to assert my voice and get tactically involved with the defense and the team and just becoming more comfortable speaking out.”
RK: What does it mean to you to be from Tucson and play for Arizona soccer?
HH: “It definitely means a lot to me. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m here and why I continue to work every day, just because I was sitting in those stands ever since I was in middle school. And to be able to go out and perform for the people who are now sitting in the stands and the community is great. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to pay it forward. There were a lot of kids who came up to me who play for the club that I played for and some of them say, ‘oh, I like to see a Tucson kid be able to go and play in the best conference in the country.’ It’s pretty inspiring for them and it’s also a motivating factor for me when I hear these stories from these kids because I was once them.”
RK: When did you start playing soccer and how did you get into it?
HH: “I started playing soccer when I was 8. It was the first club sport that I had played and that I had really got into and was good at and liked. I just stuck with it throughout, and I stuck with it mostly when I was younger because I had made friends along the way. And then as I developed into a better player, it was something that I could see me doing in the future at a higher level.”
RK: When did you start playing goalkeeper?
HH: “I think I was like two years into playing soccer and we were at this tournament and the keeper on our team got hurt. There was a [penalty kick] and they were like, ‘okay Hope, go in goal and try and save it.’ And then I did and they were like, ‘wow, maybe you should be a keeper.’ And then honestly as I got further up into club, the only way I would be able to make the top team was if I played keeper. I thought I was a good field player, but I don’t think they felt the same.” (laughs)
RK: What do you like about being a goalkeeper?
HH: “I just love the fact that you can stop somebody from scoring a goal because that’s what everybody praises in soccer. That adrenaline rush when you make a big time save is unreal. And it’s the position where I feel like I can exhibit my athleticism the most and I think that’s my best quality.”
RK: How did being a multi-sport athlete help your development?
HH: “Firstly, it helped me not get burned out when I was younger because I was able to play different sports. I didn’t play high school soccer until my senior year. I would take a couple months off to play basketball. And not only was it a good break but it was also a great crosstraining for me as a keeper because of all the athleticism that’s involved with basketball.”
RK: What drives you as a player and person?
HH: “Looking at how hard my mom works at everything that she does is inspiring, and knowing that I have a lot of people who have my back and I have a great support system. And obviously my teammates who continue to push me every day.”
RK: What does your mom do that’s inspiring?
HH: “Especially now because my mom is a nurse and she’s working with the pandemic right now. Just to see her strength and ability to not only take care of people physically, but this is a really emotional time too, and just being able to cooperate with people and continue to bring them relief. She’s so calm in distress and that’s something that I strive to be as well.”
RK: What have you been doing during quarantine?
HH: “A lot of running, and I have weights at my house, so I was fortunate enough to be able to lift. And then my sister and my dad, they would go to the field with me and they would do drills with me, just to keep my technique and keep my touch. It’s definitely not the same though and I can’t wait to get back to real soccer.”
RK: What kind of drills do you do?
HH: “There are little technical drills that I would normally do with (associate head coach) Paul (Nagy) and then I would just emulate that. Because really all those require is tossing the ball and diving and stuff like that. And then they would just shoot on me. They’re not soccer players, so it’s really unpredictable, which is good because it always keeps me on my toes.”
RK: Are there any players that you watched growing up that you try to emulate?
HH: “I honestly didn’t watch a lot of soccer growing up. Obviously Hope Solo’s the best who’s ever played for our country and she’s made big-time saves on the biggest stages. Also, I like watching highlights from like the men’s leagues as well, like Manuel Neuer or David de Gea. They’re just so athletic and they’re able to make these incredible plays and I find them pretty inspirational.”
(Editor’s note: No, Hisey was not named after Hope Solo. That they share a first name is just an awesome coincidence.)
RK: What’s your early outlook on the 2020 season?
HH: “I think how well we’re going to do is going to be determined by how adaptable we are, considering a lot of things are uncertain. And I think just continuing to welcome our freshmen in because they’re going to be half our team and we’re going to need them to contribute right off the bat. And just building a good team culture moving forward so that when adversity does hit—because it will—that we’re able to get through it and come out better on the other side.”
RK: How can you help all those freshmen get up to speed?
HH: “I think what’s important, and what was important for our class, is knowing that the older girls are committed to welcoming everybody onto the team and making them not necessarily feel like newbies, but feel like they’re part of it and that we’ve bought into a certain goal that we have and that they’re able to just follow in our footsteps. And connecting with them as soon as we can. We’ve been connecting with them through FaceTime and text message over these past few months. And then when they do get on campus and we are starting to train, continuing to build that team chemistry and having team get-togethers as much as we can.”
RK: Other than soccer and crossword puzzles (Hisey does those before games to calm herself down), what are some of your hobbies?
HH: “I like to play basketball. I like that there’s a lot of good hiking in Tucson, so I love to do that too.”
RK: What do you want to do after college?
HH: “I‘m a political science major and I want to work in government, whether it’s local or federal.”