By Barbie Porter
When teammates of Hailey Selly were asked to describe her, the words included: considerate, lively, honest, dedicated, cheerful passionate, perky, funny and confident.
The testimonies from teammates were echoed by her dance coach Katrina Courneya. In fact, Courneya has been so impressed with the daughter of Hollie and Jason Selly that she nominated her for the Most Valuable Teammate award given by the Minnesota State High School League.
“I learned she won on Feb. 18,” Courneya said, adding she had to keep the secret for several weeks.
In March, the Frazee resident learned she won the award. While Courneya said Selly was surprised, it seems those around her were not.
Classmate Marcella George, who has been a friend of Selly’s for years, said time has shown that her friend thinks of others and looks for ways to make others happy and feel appreciated. Other constants in their friendship have been Selly’s loyalty and zest for life.
“There is never a dull moment with her,” George said. “And dance season wouldn’t be the same without her.”
Selly is one of the growing number of students who participate in more than one sport during a season. Courneya said the phenomenon started in the spring.
“There was talk that volleyball and football wouldn’t happen because of the pandemic,” Courneya said. “A lot of kids decided to join cross country. Then, volleyball and football started. Those students wanted to fulfill their commitment to cross country, but also wanted to join the other sport. So, the coaches made that work to allow student athletes to be in both sports.”
Selly, who has been in dance since seventh grade, expressed interest in joining basketball this year. Courneya encouraged her. To provide Selly, and any other dancer, the opportunity to join both sports, the dance team tried to schedule practices in the morning. When evening practices were necessary, Selly would pop in after basketball practice concluded.
“All the girls on the dance team were on board with that, too,” Courneya said, adding if any concerns existed about Selly being too tired to put in the effort dance requires, the worry was quickly erased.
“She went from one practice to another and never once complained,” Courneya said. “She came in with the best attitude, a big smile on her face and uplifted her teammates. Seeing a freshman do that is special.”
Selly also showcased strong leadership abilities this year. Being a member of the jazz and high kick varsity teams, she worked with dancers that ranged from seniors to junior high. The age difference can be intimidating to the younger student athletes. If Selly saw any inclination of a dancer not being an active part of the group, she took the lead and drew them in.
“That is a huge deal to see that kind of leadership,” Courneya said.
Teammate McKenzie Wake reiterated the coach’s comments, noting Selly has an ability to “bring light to every situation” and be the “type of friend everyone dreams of having.” The junior expounded, noting she has watched Selly bring the team closer through laughter and has witnessed firsthand the power of her leadership skills.
“There was one time, where we were changing a part in the kick dance and while I was working on it, she jumped in and helped me with it,” Wake said. “At that moment, I looked at her and saw the next wave of leadership.”
Sophia Strand is a basketball teammate. While skills on the court are important, Strand shared Selly helped her with a life skill—confidence.
“I always got nervous before a game and she would just greet me with a smile and say let’s go kid,” Strand said. “It seems really simple, but it really helped.”
Riyan Eckert was also on the basketball team. Much like the dancers, she noticed quickly the uncanny ability that Selly has to lift people up.
“When someone is struggling to keep their head up while on the court, she is always there with encouraging words that can really help someone,” Eckert said.
In the young adult years, change in personalities happens, but not so much for Selly.
“I’ve known Hailey (Selly) since I was eight and she was seven,” Wake said, noting they met at the dance studio in town and enjoyed a game of tag around the building. “The most consistent thing about her friendship is that she is simply there. She seems to know how to never leave a friend behind and how to include everyone on both their good and bad days.”
Strand recalled meeting Selly about a decade ago at a daycare.
“I think I was 3 at the time and she was like 4, something like that. The thing that is most consistent about Hailey (Selly) is you can always count on her to have your back, make you laugh, or have a smile on her face. And when she smiles, you can’t help but smile yourself, it is just too contagious.”Sophia Strand
Eckert shared she met Selly about nine years ago at a garage sale.
“We’ve been friends ever since,” Eckert said. “The most consistent thing about our friendship is her loyalty and honesty to everyone.”
With a track record of being a great person and teammate, Courneya said she immediately thought of Selly when the MSHSL unveiled the award.
“I saw on social media that another student had received the award and it made me wonder how I could nominate Selly,” Courneya said, adding a little research provided the answers. “I learned it is open to coaches and administration to nominate anyone and student-athletes will be recognized each week.”
Courneya applauded the MSHSL for providing the award, as there are many student-athletes that go above and beyond in their sport.
“Selly is remarkable,” Courneya said. “Not only did she work hard in multiple sports, there were times I told her if she needed a break it was OK, but she always came to practice and gave 100 percent.”
Courneya added that dedication is also in the classroom as Selly maintained a 3.95 GPA and took studio dance classes up to 15 hours a week.
“I admire her,” Courneya said. “I admire and her energy to keep going and her ability to stay positive.”