When Haley Berube took an official visit to the University of Mary in North Dakota in January, the Christopher High senior knew it was the right fit. Having just visited Linfield College in Oregon—another place she liked—Berube was happy her experience at the University of Mary was a home run.
“When I got there, it kind of clicked in my head that this would be my new home,” said Berube, who signed her letter of intent April 18 at school in front of family, friends and teammates. “I felt comfortable and safe there, and the coaches were super supportive and friendly. I got to stay in the dorm with the girls (members of the softball team), and they were super sweet. I remember telling my mom that this is where I wanted to be.”
Berube, who is having another excellent season playing shortstop for Christopher, was on pins and needles for a while after she sent out her recruiting/skills video to 30 colleges several months ago. From that time, Berube had to wait a month or two before the University of Mary coaching staff contacted her.
“I feel lucky because the recruiting process starts early and it’s hard for seniors to get noticed if they haven’t been noticed already,” she said.
During the signing, Berube and her parents—Kirk and Edina—got emotional, no surprise since an event like this signifies years of hard work and sacrifice. Kirk mentioned the “suicide trips to LA,” and how Haley had to stay up to 1 a.m. at times to finish homework after a travel ball tournament out of the area.
“I’m pretty emotional, but my mom gets the most emotional,” Haley said. “But when my dad got emotional, that really got to me because he never gets like that.”
Ron Eugene, who is Berube’s hitting coach, said it’s Berube’s high character that separates her from other players he has come in contact with. Despite his daughter playing in a game and a scheduled hitting lesson he was supposed to give, Eugene chose to attend the signing because of the impact Berube has had in his life.
Berube knows living in Bismarck the next four years will be challenging. The weather in the winter months for one, is downright brutal.
“I know I’ll have to get a whole new wardrobe (to battle the cold),” she said. “When I visited there, it was negative (degrees), and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, are we allowed to be outside when it’s this cold?’ You look out and it was one of those scenes from the Home Alone movies. Everything was covered in snow, and it was another world. But I’m excited to be outside of California and challenge myself and experience something different.”
Berube has certainly proven herself over the years playing with several travel ball teams, enough that Marauders coach Kerry Shaw offered Berube an opportunity to play on the team despite having never seen her play in person. Shaw will see Berube in live action in Los Angeles during a national tournament in the summer. Berube relayed what Shaw told her in their conversations.
“They said they liked how super aggressive I was with hitting, and that the majority of the time I was hitting with power,” she said. “They also said even though they’ve only seen me over video, they like my personality and mentality to play the game.”
Even though the Cougars are having a solid season record-wise, Berube said the highlight of her season has been the closeness of the relationships amongst the four seniors on the team, along with the entire team in general.
“Our bond has gotten stronger, and it’ll be super emotional when we graduate,” she said. “They’ve all inspired me to be a better athlete.”
Edina had a vital role as well.
“My mom threw me into softball practice one day without the proper athletic clothes,” she said. “I was so uncomfortable wearing baggy sweats, and worst of all it was raining. We were doing sliding drills in practice, and I’m sliding into base with these baggy sweats. But it’s those uncomfortable situations that have made me the athlete I am today.”