Balancing Act: Sophomore Hadley excels on and off the field


Homegrown ATL

Hadley settles the ball against the Los Angeles Football Club.

Carolyn Harty

When the morning bell rings at Midtown, sophomore soccer player Miles Hadley isn’t in class; instead, he is beginning practice at the Atlanta United Football Club training grounds.

Hadley plays soccer for the Atlanta United U16 youth team. He has been playing soccer since he was four years old. He started playing at Atlanta’s primary youth club soccer program, Inter Atlanta Football Club, and went on to play for two other club programs: Concord Fire Football club and Alianza Soccer Club.

“Our family has been surrounded by soccer from a young age, with my sister and I both playing,” Miles’ sister senior Layla Hadley said. “We’re a very sports-oriented family.”

Because of his training regimen, Miles Hadleys’ schedule is unlike the average high school schedule. Instead of attending school during the day and then training afterwards like most student-athletes, Hadley trains during the first few hours of school and then takes his classes later with a hybrid online/in-person schedule.

“I go to practice at 8:30 every morning, then shower at the training ground and get dropped off at school around 12:00,” Miles Hadley said. “I then come home at 3:50 and start my two online classes.”

Taking hybrid classes has been an adjustment for Hadley.

“The online school aspect doesn’t really fit me because there’s no teacher,” Miles Hadley said. “You have to hold yourself accountable with time management and I’m not the best when it comes to that.”

Although the early morning practices are tough, the Hadleys’ find support through freshman teammate Seamus Streelman and his family. Living in the same neighborhood, the two carpool to practice and Streelman relates to the hectic schedule.

“I have to miss school in the morning because of practice, then I get to school around 12:00,” Streelman said. “I have to take two classes online as well, which can be tough.”

Miles Hadley is known for being a resourceful player on the field. He has years of experience in different positions, and he said his resulting technique and versatility has paid off.

“It helps to try to learn every position well,” Hadley said. “Versatile players are the ones that will go far because even if there is someone already good at your position, they can move you around.”

Miles Hadley began his soccer career in an offensive position, but has now pivoted to a defensive role.

“Early in his soccer career, we knew him as a striker, but he’s transitioned to a defensive player which can be an adjustment,” Miles’ mother Kirsten Hadley said.

Kirsten Hadley believes Miles Hadley’s knowledge for the game and high soccer IQ make him one of the smartest players on the field at a given time, an advantage for him and his team.

“He is mature as a talented defensive player, and his super power is his knowledge of the game and being able to anticipate plays better than average players, allowing him to compete well,” Kirsten Hadley said.

Along with his intellect for the game, Miles Hadley’s teammates are impressed with his speed and agility, with or without the ball.

“Miles is really quick on and off the ball,” sophomore, and friend, Tyson Randolph-Davis said. “He moves well around the field and always makes an impact.”

In 2017, Miles Hadley tore his ACL, halting his soccer career for about a year. Instead of using this injury as an excuse to get behind, he got surgery and spent months in physical therapy regaining the strength to get back to where he was.

“I think [the injury] affected me more mentally, especially playing at such a high level, getting my confidence back was difficult,” Miles Hadley said. “Physically, when I first got off my crutches, walking was scary and my first game back was probably the worst I’ve ever played.”

Despite the challenge his injury presented, Hadley worked hard to not get behind and used his teammates around him as motivation.

“Having to watch my teammates play made me want to go to the gym and do whatever I could to get stronger,” Miles Hadley said. “Physical therapy was painful every time I went. I still think I’m at 95% in terms of how I feel sprinting and everything, but next year I believe I’ll be at 100%.”

While Miles Hadley is known for his soccer talent, he also excels academically. With high academic and athletic success, college athletics are certainly on his horizon

“We’re starting to have those ‘Which schools are you interested in?’ conversations, even as a sophomore,” Kirsten Hadley said. “We are early in that process but it’s all becoming very real.”

Miles Hadley has high expectations for himself, looking at schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, Columbia, and NYU.

Along with academics, Miles Hadley has an artistic side, taking interest in fashion and music.

“Outside of being ‘Miles the soccer player,’ he has other interests and getting the opportunity to be a high school student was important for us as a family,” Kirsten said.

As Miles Hadley continues to grow as a student and an athlete, he has found that his love for soccer grows with him. He cites this passion as a catalyst for his success in the sport.

“Make sure you enjoy the sport,” Miles Hadley said. “If you don’t enjoy it and aren’t all in, you won’t put in the work to get better everyday even when no one’s holding you accountable.”