BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Golf is Hailey Schalk’s world.
“She’s a person who will wake up and come to the golf course at 6 in the morning,” says her father, Matt Schalk.
As the country comes to a stand-still and everyone is ordered to stay at home, Hailey’s world stopped spinning.
“It’s definitely hard for me to come out here and be like, ‘I can practice but now I don’t have anything really to look forward to,’” says Schalk, a senior at Holy Family High School in Broomfield. “It’s definitely difficult.”
She’s the reigning three-time state champ in class 4A golf – no one in the history of Colorado, boy or girl, has ever won four golf state titles.
However, her third championship will likely be her last. As of April 6, CHSAA is postponing all spring sports through at least April 30, with some believing the entire spring season will be lost.
“[It’s] really devastating for me because I never expected anything like this to happen, I don’t think anybody did,” says Schalk. “It’s kind of a shock for me that I didn’t even get a chance to try and do it.”
Matt Schalk is her father, but he’s also her coach. He had to sit by and watch the coronavirus-related cancellation take its toll.
“You definitely see the depression that kind of sets in,” he remembers.
The most difficult part for Hailey was losing control. Her shot at sports immortality dissolving just outside of her reach.
“I think it would have been easier for me if I had gotten to play and I lost,” says Schalk. “It definitely would have hurt a lot, but it would have been easier for me just knowing that I tried and I gave it my all. And now I don’t really get that opportunity.”
She understands the gravity of the situation, but she’s also feeling raw – and helpless – and hurt.
“I think it’s harder to understand that we can’t do anything about it,” says Schalk. “There are bigger things going on, even though us as teenagers [this is] a huge deal for us and it’s selfish, but it makes sense.”
For her dad Matt, memories of swings missed make for sleepless nights.
“There’s a lot of golf that I didn’t get to see Hailey play over the last several years,” he says. “When something like this hits you and you say, 'Oh, I’m really going to get out there this year [and watch her play]. To see most of those [events] going away right now and knowing that I didn’t take advantage of that, it’s disappointing.”
Amid the dark clouds we find a ray of sunshine – Hailey’s golf career will continue next year at the University of Colorado.
“I think I achieved a lot of things, even more than I thought I would have,” says Schalk. “Winning three state championships, I don’t think I ever thought that would be me.”
As she forges into the future, Hailey Schalk moves forward with a newfound sense of gratitude.
“Enjoy every moment that I have, enjoy every time that I get to be on the golf course,” says Schalk. “I think that I took this for granted, that I would never get my prom taken away or my graduation taken away or anything like this.”