Photo: Glencoe High School senior Daijah Hammond signed a scholarship with North Idaho College on May 12. Pictured, sitting, from left: mom Alicia Kline, Daijah, stepdad Bobby Kline, sister Giana Hammond. Standing, from left: GHS soccer coach Daniel Cook, GHS soccer coach Craig Smith, Alabama Rush coach Mike Morris. (Submitted)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Daijah Hammond’s soccer career will continue 2,272 miles away in the Mountain Time Zone.
The Glencoe High school senior signed a scholarship with North Idaho College on May 12.
Up until a few months ago, Hammond did not intend to play college soccer. She changed her mind when North Idaho women’s soccer coach Kellsi Parson offered Hammond a spot on the team.
“Out of the blue, Coach Kellsi messaged me and asked if I wanted to play for her. A girl who I had played club ball with had already committed there, so that helped in my decision. It’s a good change a scenery, and I’m really ex-cited.”
The North Idaho women’s soccer team went 12-6 overall and 8-4 in the Northwest Athletic Conference. The Lady Cardinals made it to the conference tournament quarterfinals.
A starter for Glencoe since her eighth-grade year, Hammond was named to the 2020, 2021 and 2022 All-Greater Gadsden Area teams. This past season, she made 148 saves while allowing only 16 goals. As a junior, Hammond made 95 saves while helping the Lady Yellow Jackets go 18-2, with the team being ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in Class 1A-3A for most of the regular season. She had 58 saves with only seven goal allowed in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.
Hammond further honed her skills playing for the Fusion, Rush and BUSA club teams over the past several years. She wound up as a goalie much as many other keepers do – no one else on the team wanted to play the position.
“I was about seven [years old] playing rec ball, and the girl in goal didn’t want to do it anymore. I volunteered, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
GHS girls soccer coach Craig Smith noted that Hammond not only functioned under pressure but stepped up her game in the spotlight.
“I’ve trusted Daijah more than any other goalie I’ve ever coached,” he said. “One of the things that always amazed me about her was that she thrived in a penalty kick situation. Whether it was a PK in a tie ball game or a regular PK in the run of play, Daijah thrived in that environment. I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but I’m fairly certain that her career save ratio is at around the two-thirds area, which is pretty impressive. The penalty kick is set up to be an advantage to the kicker. With Daijah, I always felt that the advantage was with my keeper.”
Hammond, who plans on pursuing a degree in marine biology with the goal of becoming an aquatic veterinarian, credits Smith, assistant coach (and her stepfather) Bobby Kline and local club coach Dr. Mike Morris in furthering her development as a player.
“When I played rec ball, Bobby help build up my courage and be more aggressive. Coach Mike helped me a ton with my footwork. Coach Craig makes for an amazing team in how well he coaches us. I just loved playing for him.”
Hammond had a simple explanation when asked how she thrives under the intense pressure of a penalty kick.
“It’s like a guessing game, and I always liked putting puzzles together. Trying to guess which way a player will kick is a lot of fun for me.”