Hailey Krey: Lawyer, founder, former female tennis player

“Student-athlete” is an honorary expression at BYU. But for Hailey Daniels Krey, it’s just one of many aspects of who she is. Other roles that could be added to the list include wife, daughter, friend, former BYU tennis player, juvenile arthritis fighter and advocate for mental health.

Krey’s tennis journey began at the age of 15. When she knew she would eventually play tennis in college, she quickly began to strengthen her skills and participated in a series of tournaments. Completely engaged, Krey traveled to his first tournament. While the first day of the tournament went well, a decision was made when she was to compete on a Sunday.

“I did not feel there was anything wrong with playing on Sunday,” Krey said. “I just felt really strongly that I shouldn’t.”

Hailey Krey celebrates with her high school coaches. “Student-Athlete” is just one of many titles for Krey. (Photo courtesy of Hailey Krey)

After choosing to drop out of the tournament, Krey realized that other tournaments were now out of the question, as each one took place on a Sunday. With the obligation not to participate in Sunday games, Krey knew that her only options for college tennis were BYU and BYU-Hawaii.

Krey continued to work toward his goal of college athletics. However, the decision not to play on Sunday would not be the only roadblock on her path. After acknowledging an increasing amount of pain in her hands, the young tennis player received news that would change her life.

Looking back, Krey notes that her parents said she had always complained of pain in her knees and other joints. She pushed the emotions aside and continued to live her life normally. It was only when she took notes in class one day that she realized something was wrong. With the pain in his hands at a time when it was hard to write, Krey knew it was time to tell his parents.

After several consultations, the diagnosis returned as juvenile arthritis.

Juvenile arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints, eyes and internal organs. Information for this infographic came from the Arthritis Foundation. (Made in Canva by Ashtyn Hill Salazar)

“After I was diagnosed, everything made sense,” Krey said. “I remember one particular time when I was in eighth grade and I woke up and my wrist was super swollen and I did not tell anyone but I just packed my wrist and had a little brace on and managed it.”

The CDC defines arthritis as a disease that inflames or swells the joints. Juvenile arthritis often manifests itself in symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, fever, stiffness and a hard time in daily actions such as walking, playing and even dressing.

The CDC also says that many of those diagnosed with juvenile arthritis may suffer permanent joint damage and occasional disability. With this in mind, one can only imagine Krey’s feelings at the age of 15 after her diagnosis.

“When I was younger, I just kept it in a lot,” Krey said. “I think there was a lot of denial and there was a lot of overwhelm. It was very lonely.”

By pushing through the emotions and challenges, Krey committed himself to moving forward toward his goals.

Krey reached out to BYU-Hawaii’s head coach and was offered a spot on the Seasiders’ tennis team, where she played one season prior to her mission and another when she returned. Krey said building relationships with teammates around the world and playing the game created many memories and lifelong friendships.

BYU tennis player Leah Heimuli described Krey as a “sunbeam” and a great positive influence for the team.

“Even when she’s having a hard day, she’s always looking for ways to help others,” Heimuli said. “Having such a person just lights a candle like a fire under everyone, because then everyone is a little motivated because they just see how one person is and how it can affect the whole team.”

Hailey Krey, fourth from the left, hangs out with her tennis team at BYU-Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Hailey Krey)

Unfortunately for Krey, BYU-Hawaii announced the closure of all athletic programs for the school in 2017. Although Krey had a year left of eligibility, her career began to look like it was coming to an end.

That is, until an opportunity came and knocked on in the form of a phone call from BYU.

Coach Dave Porter had served as a tennis coach at BYU-Hawaii since 1984. When the program closed, Porter took a shift from the islands to Provo to get an assistant position in BYU’s tennis program.

Krey had a close relationship with Porter, and after a phone call, she was required to continue playing. After trying out the team, Krey was welcomed and played his remaining season with the Cougars.

“It was a little surreal because I remember when I was 15, I first reached the goal and I went to a BYU tennis camp,” Krey said. “I remember playing a game on one of their indoor courts and standing on the Y, and I said to myself, ‘I have to be here one day.'”

When she remembered the feelings from one of her first exercises, Krey recounted, “I just remembered the 15-year-old girl who had that dream and how it was like I made it.”

Hailey Krey coaches at BYU tennis courts. Krey came to BYU with one season left after BYU – Hawaii announced the closure of all athletic programs for the school in 2017. (BYU photo)

While at BYU, tennis was not the only thing Krey put his heart and soul into. As a student of the Entrepreneurship Program, Krey helped create an app called The Ascendant Tracker.

As defined on its website, “The Ascendant Tracker gives (users) control by giving them something they can actively do when they feel symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, etc., which also helps them become more aware of their mental health symptoms.We then help them easily visualize the patterns of their mental health through the data we collect.This data can be linked to loved ones to help increase the understanding and awareness of the loved one.The data can also be shared with a therapist for to increase the effectiveness of therapy sessions. “

The Ascendant Tracker app helps users visualize their mental health. Krey helped create this app when she was a student in the BYU Entrepreneurship Program. (The Ascendant Tracker)

For Krey, this app is a love project and stems from the desire to help others in their battle with mental health. Having a career in tennis along with fighting an autoimmune disorder brings challenges. According to Krey, she feels it has only been in the last five years that she has been emotionally able to work her way through some of the challenges she was faced with at a young age.

“Once you’ve literally gone through hell, it’s amazing how much empathy you can show to someone who’s also going through hell,” Krey said. “You may not have gone down the same path, but some of my best experiences that have actually made me grateful for all that I have been through have been when I have talked to someone who feels so lost. I can completely relate to many of their emotions when they are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness. ”

An advocate for anyone struggling with mental challenges, Krey explained that it can often be difficult for athletes to maintain a healthy mindset.

According to an article submitted by Athletes for Hope, 33% of college students expressed struggles with mental health. By comparison, the same article noted that up to 35% of all elite athletes also suffer from mental health issues.

Ofa Hafoka, a BYU psychologist who works specifically with athletes, noted the mental health struggles that occur when engaging in collegiate athletics.

Hafoka said it is often difficult for athletes to separate self-esteem from their time on the athletic stage. She said her advice to athletes in therapy is “just to start with, no matter what the outcome is, no matter what the outcome is, I’m still the same person.”

Although she has moved on from the world of college athletics, the passion for her journey remains on the road to mental health. Redefining success has been a key for Krey.

“Success for me is living a happy life and feeling fulfilled in what I do every day and having the freedom to do so,” Krey said.

While Krey continues on her journey and serves as an advocate for arthritis and mental health, she appears to be pursuing a career in medical technology. She looks to the future with excitement for what is to come.

Printer friendly, PDF and email

Leave a Comment