‘A true example of RCS pride.’
It is not every day a student-athlete from Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk receives a full athletic scholarship to a Division I College. In fact, it has been nearly 40 years since a student has achieved the feat.
This year, Haley Irvis broke the cycle, signing her National Letter of Intent on Thursday, Nov. 12, to attend Long Island University on a full athletic scholarship for softball.
“I have been playing softball as long as I can remember,” Irvis said.
Coaches noticed her skills on the field were promising, even as a child. And while her raw talents were apparent, Irvis was nicknamed “Wild Thing,” known for throwing pitches over the backstop, way off the plate or even hitting batters at times.
“As a young pitcher, she threw incredibly hard – which is not easy to do in softball,” said varsity softball coach Matthew Miller. “You could see that she had great skills. The question for her was corralling those skills. But we all knew it was just a matter of time for her to get that control.”
Through years of dedicated practice, Irvis gained control of her pitching. Her father, Paul, recognized her commitment and fostered that drive to build on her natural abilities.
“As Haley was growing, I would present her with opportunities to work. She would accept them and push the physical workouts. So, I knew she had the desire and it never wavered over the years,” Paul said.
Heather Irvis, Haley’s mom, could see her growth and determination as well.
“Haley just kept getting better. She would always push herself. Everyone always said these college scholarships for athletes are a one percent thing, and Haley always said she sees herself as that top one percent.”
Irvis was right. At a college visit with her father, they met with softball recruiters from Long Island University and she was offered a scholarship on the spot.
“It was like trying to play a good hand of poker. Trying to have a good poker face was very difficult to do. She wanted to smile big, and so did I,” Paul recalls. “So as soon as we got out of sight of the coaches we smiled from ear-to-ear. It was great.”
Irvis’s mom did not make that trip, but when she received a text from her husband with a picture of Haley and the caption “$200,000 smile!” she had one question.
“Is it my $200,000 or theirs?” When the answer came back, a thrilled Heather replied, “That’s a beautiful smile.”
For Irvis, the scholarship is thrilling. However, there is one thing that excites her more.
“I’m going for free and that’s great, but I’m mostly excited to get to play softball at the Division I level.”
While Irvis feels some of the pressure has lifted, she says this is not the time to relax.
“I definitely still have to focus to get better this season since I know where I will be going a year from now, but it’s going to be fun getting to play, stress-free not having to worry about getting recruited,” Irvis said. She also keeps in mind that softball is not her only focus. Irvis is ranked 14th in her class, maintaining a 95 percent average. She will have about 30 credits going into college, where she plans on studying for a career in the health field.
“It’s definitely a lot of time management for me, I take a lot of intense classes and then I have all the practices and games, but I make it work because I love to play softball.”
That love is apparent to Coach Miller.
“She is a quiet leader, she’s positive, she’s a goof, and the kids respond to that,” Miller said. “She has taken our softball program to new levels, and by doing that, she makes the other players on the team want to be better. They know there is something special there, so they work harder because they don’t want to let her down. Haley is a true example of RCS pride.”