HawkStrong: Jessica Laird grew as an athlete and a leader

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Softball team photo of Jessica Laird.

Playing softball has always been part of HFC student-athlete Jessica Laird’s identity.

“It’s who I am,” said Laird, of Brighton. “I wasn’t ready to be done playing softball after high school, so I came to HFC.”

Helping athletes reach their goals

The youngest of three, Laird graduated from Brighton High School, where she played softball for four years. Laird attended HFC on an athletic scholarship. She is majoring in exercise science and will graduate in late 2023. In the 2022-23 academic year, she made the HFC All-Academic Team.

After graduation from HFC, she will transfer to either Rochester University or St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC. There, she will continue her softball career and finish her bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

“I want to be able to coach softball, so going into exercise science will help me understand more about what athletes need and how to help them reach their goals,” she said.

Hitting her first collegiate home run

For the 2022-23 season, the Hawks took third place in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference with a record of 17-13. The team’s overall record was 21-17. One of the highlights of this season was being featured as the NJCCA Game of the Week on ESPN+.

“It was such a cool experience to see all the cameras and to be able to say that I got to play on ESPN!” she said.

Another highlight for Laird this season was hitting her first collegiate home run.

“That was a proud moment,” said Laird. “I got to meet some really nice people at HFC. I really enjoyed playing softball with them.”

Becoming a leader on and off the field

Coach Steve Brown has had a profound influence on her.

“Words can’t describe Jessica,” said Brown. “She’s one of the best players I’ve had. She is a great athlete, a great student, and a great leader. She was low-maintenance with high output. Last year when she joined the team, she hardly said more than a few words. This year, she grew and become a leader on and off the field. She was a pleasure to coach.”

Laird will call upon Brown’s wisdom and guidance as she continues her playing career and when she eventually becomes a coach.

“Playing for Coach Brown was a lot of fun. It helped me become a leader on and off the field,” said Laird. “HFC helped me regain the love for the game and now I don’t want to stop playing. I also learned how to be more of a leader for my team and that is something that I want to keep with me for my next two years of softball!”