Welcome to The Art of Athletes, a blog series showcasing the underrated creative minds behind Pfeiffer’s athletes. In this interview, I will give you an insight into Kaley Hyatt’s story and how art and athletics has helped shape her life. As a result, I hope to spread awareness of the divided campus, and persuade you to have an open mind about the artists and athletes that surround you.
What sports are you currently involved with?
I am currently on the soccer and lacrosse teams at Pfeiffer, but I have not played them for the same amount of years. I have been playing soccer since I was five years old, but lacrosse is very new to me. I started playing my freshman year of college and I am currently a senior, so I guess it has been a couple years but I have both of those going on for me right now.
In soccer, I am a goalkeeper and I have been that same position since sophomore year of high school. Before that I was a field player. Since soccer has been the sport that I have played most of my life, many of my successes come from it. I came in as a freshman and I had the wonderful opportunity of being able to start as the starting goalkeeper. I have won a few honors through academics like being a student athlete with a high GPA, as well as being the team's MVP my sophomore year, and I just won goalkeeper of the year for our USA south conference.
Lacrosse turned out to be the complete opposite. I am actually an attacker or forward, so I get to score the goals whereas in soccer I get to save them. As far as awards go, I have not won as much. I have some goals under my belt and I have had the opportunity to start as an attacker which is all pretty awesome if you ask me.
Kaley posing for women's soccer media day during her sophomore season.
What art forms are you currently involved with?
My main form of art would be music. I love to sing. I do it a lot in my free time, when I find myself in the chapel alone, in the car, in the shower, you name it. It is something that I am able to relate to and I express myself through it.
Another art form that I do is puzzles. I know that may sound cheesy, but I love to just sit down, sprawl out, and have a puzzle in front of me. It’s so relaxing and I find myself staying up through all of the hours of the night just trying to find each piece and finish the puzzle. It takes my mind off of everything and allows me to relate to my family as well. Me and my mom do them almost every single time we are together.
The majority of the puzzles I do and the songs I sing come from Disney. If you know me, you know I love Disney with my whole heart. I love to be super outgoing in the middle of songs, so things on Disney and The Greatest Showman are huge picks for me. I seem to always fall back to the song "Never Enough" from The Greatest Showman, but "This is Me" is one of my favorites as well. I also enjoy songs from movies and Broadway musicals, or even things that just pop up on the radio. I don't sing a specific genre, it's more of whatever sticks with me just sticks. I listen to a broad range of music and I sing whatever I enjoy. My favorite artist to sing along with right now is Lauren Daigle because I relate to her music, her songs, her lyrics, and her voice.
How have these relationships changed over time?
I have been playing soccer since I could walk. My brother played soccer when he was in middle school and high school, so whenever I was a little girl, I watched him play and I kind of grew into that. Ever since I was little, I remember being on the tiny teams and chasing butterflies. I would say I mainly stuck with soccer up until middle school when I tried to branch out to other sports. I eventually got pushed towards basketball and volleyball, so I did try both of them but I was not good at either.
Once I got to high school, I tried swimming and cross country. Then I started flag football my sophomore year of high school and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was neat that my school actually had a team, not a club or powder puff games, it was an actual competitive team just like a regular football team except all girls.
I eventually progressed onto college and ended up playing soccer at Pfeiffer. My freshman year, I also picked up lacrosse and, boy, was that on a whim—myself and a couple of my friends decided to just try it out one day. It turns out, we really liked it and our teammates were the best people in the entire world. Of course, it is kind of difficult to pick up a sport in college and compete against other people who have been playing the sport since they were little, but it has been such an awesome opportunity to be able to say I've played lacrosse here for the past almost 4 years now.
When speaking about my journey with art forms, as a little kid I don't remember being into music. No one in my family is particular music-oriented. I think around middle school is when I realized that I could sing a little. I was never a choir kind of person, but I did pick up band and I played a few instruments like the flute and piccolo. I mainly was a singer throughout my whole music career, but I only sang to my family and when I was alone.
Doing puzzles is something newer for me, though. It started a couple years ago when my family got super into board games and puzzles. A lot of my family members do the puzzles for 15 minutes and then they give up, but that is not the case for my mom and me. We could sit there for hours just bonding and talking over puzzles. My mom is my number one supporter and the most wonderful human being on this planet, so this was a way that we spent a lot of time together, especially because I am an out of state athlete and am at college majority of the year. Wonderfully, though, she still sends me pictures of puzzles once she completes them.
Kaley running the 4x800m her freshman year of high school.
What is the most significant challenge you've faced that has shaped you into the athlete and artist that you are today?
I consider myself a very independent and mature person, and I think that branches back to things that happened when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I moved to Huntersville, North Carolina all the way from Florida where I was born and raised. My mom got a new job up here that had really nice pay and it shook things up when we moved. It was just me, my mom and dad, and our dogs and cats. My mom ended up losing the job after 6 months and my dad also got laid off within a month of my mom. My grandfather, my mom’s dad, actually passed away at the same time. With both people getting laid off, my grandfather passing away, and my other grandparents hitting a period of bad health, we did not have the money to own our house anymore, so we had to move back to Florida into my grandparents' house. Neither of my parents had jobs and we weren’t financially stable to even have a car or a house.
This time blindsided us, especially me. I mean, I was in 6th grade off in my own world and then, bam, all of this happened. I knew everything that was going on and it was a time where I told myself, "Alright, you've got to grow up" because I had to be more understanding of things around me. Eventually, we were able to get back on our feet, but after that happened, around eighth grade, my dad almost passed away. He had to have triple bypass heart surgery. He was out reffing a soccer game and, thank God, his last soccer game got cancelled because the next day he started having numbness and chest pain. He was about to have a heart attack. All of it was so unexpected.
Eighth grade was about the time where I started to step up and get more into athletics and finding myself in music a little. During that time period of not knowing, I remember waiting to see if my dad would even make it out of surgery. I remember being taken out of school and suddenly rushed to the hospital to see him. This is where I relied on music and athletics to get everything off of my mind. I liked getting out of the hospital and going to practice or being in my room and listening to music while sobbing or trying to make myself laugh.
My dad had to miss one of my club games because he was in the ICU, and he was so angry about that. Back then, I was a midfielder which means that I did not really score that much, but that game I scored and it was actually with my butt. It was funny and such a great memory even though my dad was not there. It's just crazy how people would see me playing the sport I love, or look at my mom on the sideline, and they would never know what we were going through at the time.
Kaley posing with her mom and dad after winning the USA South regular season conference championship.
Do you consider sports and art to be therapeutic, and if so how?
Both athletics and art gives me a sense of therapy, and they are a way to escape everything that is going on around me. Life is stressful and so is college, so it is a nice way just to take a second whether it be at practice or going into the chapel and allowing these things to just calm you down. Even going on the soccer field and kicking a ball around or throwing a ball around at lacrosse is just peaceful and it allows me to focus on what I love to do. While I love both equally, soccer is time-consuming and, at times, very stressful. If sports are getting stressful, or not being as therapeutic at the time, then I can seek my music and regenerate or calm down and go back to the way things were. It soothes those stressors out. Both, in their own ways, are very therapeutic and balance each other well. I could even have issues with singing a song or a time period where I am not singing well, and I can go out on the soccer or lacrosse field and gather that same sense of peacefulness or serenity.
Kaley and her boyfriend, Topher, performing her sister's first dance song at her wedding.
How has the relationship between athletes and artists evolved since your freshman year?
Starting at Pfeiffer, it was a little rough. Things have definitely gotten better over the years, but I still see the gap between the two worlds on campus. I remember coming in freshman year and everyone had their own groups. I feel like when I got here I was only associated with the soccer team. Soccer was a fall sport so I came right in and I started my sport right off the bat. Nobody knew that I could sing or that I even participated in music. You could have just called me "Kaley the soccer player" and everyone would know who I was. It was very hard to branch out to other groups because once I tried to all I heard was “Oh Kaley, you are a soccer player, you need to get back over into this bubble.” So, it was different, and it was difficult. Yet I was a very shy person at first, Pfeiffer and these experiences have changed me in a way to be more outgoing and express myself in ways that goes against the crowd.
Pfeiffer is kind of exclusive in a way. Some close-knit groups just aren’t accepting of others, you know? When I began as a freshman, I began as a soccer player, but when the season ended, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do other than sports so I tried the praise band. It was the first time that anyone here knew I had the ability to sing. I had never sang in front of people in my entire life so I could see how people would be taken back and say “Wait, that's Kaley? That is the same girl that is out there on the field? I thought those were two different people.” I literally had people asking me if that was me up there singing with the praise band. So, I think as that has progressed and as I have gained more experience of showing people how to go out of their comfort zone, I think things have grown at Pfeiffer.
"I literally had people asking me if that was me up there singing with the praise band."
As an athlete, have you ever found yourself purposely hiding that you have artistic abilities and why?
I definitely have hid my artistic abilities more than once. As a freshman, of course you come in and the first thing people see you as is what they continuously think of you as and, for me, that was more with the athletics side. Even branching back to before I was here, I was just kind of afraid of what people were going to think about me. My family were the only people I have sang in front of, except for very exclusive friends. We would be headed to a tournament or a class and music would be on and I would be singing along, that's about the only time people heard me sing. Even then I sang quieter and I was afraid to come out and express myself.
Here at Pfeiffer, it is difficult because when it comes to meshing art and athletics together it is like High School Musical. I’m kind of like the Troy Bolton of the soccer team. He is super into basketball and I’m into soccer, but there is a side of him and me that is music-oriented that people don’t know about. I was late to the game when it came to music, but when it happened, I took a step back and I was like woah, I can really do this and I love it so much but, still, in other's eyes I’m just an athlete. I know in a coach's mind it's all about athletics and same with music teachers or so on. It's hard to make them both think of the other and allow time for one another.
I have been hiding myself and I still do it to this day, but sometimes I come out of that bubble. The first time we were singing on the bus on the way to the soccer game, we did karaoke, and I knew that all of the people who truly know me would pick a song that they knew I could really sing. It turned out to be my favorite song, "Never Enough" from The Greatest Showman. It was so funny seeing everyone’s reaction because I am not a person that will just come out and tell people that I sing very well. I was honestly very quiet when I started singing on that bus, but I knew I had to do it because everyone on the team had to pick a song and sing it. Even my coaches reacted in a shocked way. In retrospect, it was eye opening that people were so shocked.
What do you think it means to be both an athlete and an artist?
When I describe myself I still tell people “Hey, I’m Kaley and I play soccer and lacrosse here at Pfeiffer,” but I have lots of other attributes as well and I fail to realize that. On game days for both lacrosse and soccer, we have a tradition in the locker room where we play music really loudly. I know that may not mean that I am singing at the top of my lungs, but I am still thinking of the lyrics and the rhythm which gets me pumped up. The balance between the two is great because if you get frustrated in one aspect you can go to the other to help soothe you and bring you back to your normal self. It means that you have somewhat of an open mind whether it be trying out new things or being open to new people. It means to broaden your horizons and push away the worry of being judged. In this day and age, it seems that you are either just an athlete or a musician, but I think it is nice to be the tie between the two and show people that you can have many different characteristics.
Kaley playing goalkeeper for her club team at age 10.
"When I describe myself I still tell people “Hey, I’m Kaley and I play soccer and lacrosse here at Pfeiffer,” but I have lots of other attributes as well and I fail to realize that."
How do you think the disconnected relationship between artists and athletes can be mended?
A lot of it takes an open mind. I know that you really are tied to one group or the other, but broadening your horizons and at least trying to get a feel for different things is extremely important. I know that the main thing I came for is athletics, so that is something that drives the majority of what I do and I work around those schedules more than my artsy side.
I would say having flexibility in your schedule is another way to try different things. I had to drop praise band at one time because it was in the middle of my practice schedule and I wasn't as flexible with it. People think of art and athletics as two different things so when things are being scheduled, it creates that sense of exclusion because certain people will go to certain things. Making sure that you are as inclusive as possible creates a better atmosphere.
I remember walking into your room and seeing the same exact puzzle that me and my mom have at home. Since people don’t typically see puzzles as an art form, how would you consider it art and how has this helped you?
I consider it art because it is something that you dedicate yourself to and it's not easy. There are different levels of puzzles; for example, we did puzzles when we were smaller because it was a way to help us grow and learn and solve problems. I think it is cool because you start from nothing. You're staring at a blank desk or table and you have to strategically place all of the pieces together, but that's so relaxing for me. When looking at a tiny piece, you have no clue what it is supposed to be, but when you put them together you are mind blown because you finally realize what it is. In my mind, I have to finish the puzzle so it is hard to stop doing it. My mom isn't a person who typically stays up late, but when it comes to doing puzzles with me, she will stay up all night if she has to. Eventually, you put all of these pieces together, and the end result is something crazy beautiful that you would never see just looking at one single piece.
Kaley's collection of Thomas Kinkade Disney puzzles.
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