MILLVILLE — Three years ago with her freshman season just completed, Halle Livingston was really looking forward to the future at Rigby High School in Idaho.
The three-sport star had made her presence felt on the varsity teams and would continue to as a sophomore until the spring of 2017, when she broke an ankle. Then her family moved to Cache Valley. Moving to a new school as a teenager is never easy.
“It was pretty hard moving my junior year because of friends and athletics,” Livingston said. “My junior year was kind of rough. But everything turned around my senior year. It was tough at first, but looking back, it was a good experience.”
Those at Ridgeline High School would agree with the 18-year-old who now resides in Millville with her parents and three younger siblings. Livingston didn’t miss a beat, athletically, in moving south and becoming a Riverhawk. While it certainly must have been hard on her, she became an important member of the Ridgeline volleyball, basketball and track and field teams.
“When I heard she was moving to Ridgeline and was able to see what she accomplished in her freshman year, I was thrilled,” Ridgeline head track coach Katrina Parker said. “Then when she got hurt prior to actually moving to Ridgeline, I wasn’t sure how her track and field career would turn out, let alone her other two sports. She worked hard and was able to not only win a state title in the 100 hurdles, but place in the high jump and was an anchor leg of our school record setting 4x100 relay (team).”
“I knew Halle was special the first time she walked into my gym the summer before her junior year,” Ridgeline head volleyball coach Denae Pruden said. “It’s hard coming to a new school in the middle of high school, but Halle handled it like a champ. I am so proud of Halle and everything she has accomplished.”
Livingston became a starter in volleyball and basketball for the two years she was at Ridgeline — was a four-year starter in volleyball counting her first two years at Rigby, and was on varsity for four years in basketball — and a star on the track and field team. The daughter of Jeremy and Melissa Livingston graduated with a 3.8 grade point average.
For her efforts in athletics and the classroom, Livingston was chosen as The Herald Journal Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2018-19.
“I owe it all to my team,” Livingston said. “They are the reason that I’m getting this award. All the awards I’ve gotten, it’s all because of my team. They help me and keep me up. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
She went on to thank all of her coaches, teammates and parents and called her time at Ridgeline “awesome.”
While she was building chemistry with her various teams as a junior, Livingston proved she belonged.
“This young lady has helped to create the culture of Ridgeline girls basketball,” RHS head girls basketball head coach Ainsli Jenks said. “When I say proudly to the team that we play ‘RiverHawk basketball’, it means that we play like her. I will forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to be her coach.”
How good was Livingston at each of her sports? Good enough to get offers in each of them at Division I schools.
“I wanted to go play volleyball in college, then after this season of basketball, I kind of changed my mind,” Livingston said. “I had some offers in volleyball and figured I would go through basketball and then pick one of those volleyball offers.
“At state for basketball, the SUU coaches saw me for first time. They had a scholarship available. I guess it was good timing. They offered me.”
She still wanted some time to think it over, even though she admits basketball is her favorite sport. Then more basketball offers came in, including Utah State as a preferred walk-on.
“It took a lot of time to decide where I wanted to play, but decided I wanted to play basketball because it felt right for me,” Livingston said. “I did have an offer for track, but I didn’t want to run track. I know that sounds bad.”
She decided to take the Southern Utah offer and will be playing basketball for the Thunderbirds. Livingston has already headed to Cedar City to start working out.
Coming from a competitive and athletic family certainly helped mold Livingston. Her dad played football at Ricks College and she currently has a brother on the BYU football team.
“I’ve played whatever sport there is during the season ever since I was little,” Livingston said. “I always followed my older brother and wanted to do what he was doing. That got me going.”
No, she did not play football, but did play golf and was a pitcher in softball until high school. She can’t recall her best round of golf, but did take third in a state competition in Idaho when she as 12.
“I ended up picking track (over golf) because of some of my friends,” Livingston said. “It worked out.”
Boy, did it.
As a freshman at Rigby, she took second at state in the 100 hurdles in a photo finish, ending up being two-thousandths of a second behind the winner.
“I think my competitiveness comes out in track, and I want to win so bad,” Livingston said. “That sounds bad, but I like winning.”
She missed her sophomore year with the broken ankle, then won a state title with Ridgeline in the 100 hurdles and was the state runner-up in the high jump.
“Winning the hurdles was awesome with all the adversity I had faced,” Livingston said. “It was the best feeling. This year I didn’t do too good. It was still fun.”
She did win the Region 12 titles in the 100 hurdles and high jump as a senior, but struggled at state because of a sore hop and “some leg stuff.”
“As a coach, you hope and pray you have the privilege of working with an athlete that has certain qualities,” Parker said. “Natural talent, athleticism and a dose of competitiveness. Halle has all three. ... She holds school records in the 100 hurdles and high jump. It has been a pleasure to be part of her track and field experience.”
She chose to play volleyball for similar reasons that got her into track — her friends. Then the outside and right side hitter started to shine.
“As a freshman I was not bad and ended up playing varsity,” Livingston said. “I was like a, ‘Oh, what-have-I-done kind of thing.’ Then I started to love it. It’s cool to go up and hit the ball.”
And the 5-foot-10 Livingston does have some hops. Some nights it looked like she was going to jump out of the gym. She was the team MVP both years she played at Ridgeline and was an all-state honoree both years.
“She is one of the most naturally talented athletes I’ve had the pleasure to coach,” Pruden said. “I am also proud of how much she grew in her leadership abilities this past season. She is ready to help lead her SUU team to great heights.”
Livingston called volleyball a “big chemistry sport” and liked how the Riverhawks came together this past season. Taking a set from eventual state champion Sky View was a highlight for her.
Basketball has given her some big ups and downs. She began the sport at the age of 5 and said she has always loved it.
“I loved it in Rigby and liked all of my teammates, then moved here and my junior year was a little crazy,” Livingston said. “I was the only senior this year, but it was so cool how everybody came together and worked hard. I think that was the best part, everyone working hard. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but pretty close.”
The Riverhawks made it all the way to the 4A title game, but lost to undefeated Cedar City.
“We set a goal to get to the state championship game and just kept winning,” Livingston said. “I was thinking, ‘wow, this is going to happen.’ We had fun and enjoyed it, but worked hard too. It was the coolest experience getting to the state championship.
“... I just like having a team, not being an individual. It’s fun having girls around you that want to win as much as you and want to work as hard as you do. It’s easy to stay motivated when you have people pushing you or wanting the same thing. It’s so much more fun to win with teammates.”
Her basketball coach would attribute a chunk of the success to the lone senior, who garnered all-region and all-state accolades both of her years at Ridgeline. She was the recipient of the REACH award from her team. REACH represents what Jenks feels is important for the program to succeed — respect, effort, attitude, communication and honesty.
“This award has nothing to do with statistics, but everything about character,” Jenks said. “... Halle showed respect to her teammates and coaches, as well as to referees and opponents. Her effort and attitude showed leadership, dedication and sacrifice. She gave maximum effort at practices and maintained a positive championship attitude. She pushed herself and her teammates, time and time again to become better individually and collectively. She didn’t complain or make excuses when faced with adversity.”
Jenks related a story of when the team was running ladders. Livingston was suffering from shin splints and could see on her player’s face the pain. Jenks stood in front of Livingston to stop her from running another ladder.
“She looked at me, eyes tearing up from the pain, and asked me to move,” Jenks said. “She wanted to run with her teammates. Her attitude was that she owed it to them.
“As the lone senior, she stepped outside of her comfort zone to become a vocal leader this season. Through her communication, she consistently encouraged her teammates, on the court, in our huddles and in the locker room. She set an example for her teammates and she never asked a teammate to do something that she wasn’t willing to do herself. She was always honest and open with the coaches, and accepted accountability for her actions on and off the court.”
Livingston was one of the leading scorers in 4A with 15.8 points a game. The guard likes driving to the basket.
Despite playing a sport all year long, she was able to do well in the classroom. Livingston quickly admits school does not come easy to her.
“It’s kind of tough with practices or games late at night, but you just have to make it a priority and get it done, take advantage of any time you get,” Livingston said. “... A lot of my classes are hard. I’m not the greatest, but I can study and get it done. It takes me some time. I have a lot of good teachers that have helped me.”
English is her favorite subject as she grew to enjoy writing. Jenks was a teacher for that subject that helped her “love it more.”
Her favorite teacher at Ridgeline was Teisha Sorensen. Livingston took an adult roles class from her and felt like Sorensen encouraged her and also took an interest in her doing sports.
“I want to be like her,” Livingston said of Sorensen.
“I really enjoyed having Halle in my class; she is so determined,” Sorensen said. “It didn’t matter if it was the court, track or classroom, she wanted to do her best no matter what and what trials she had to face. She was so respectful and truly wanted to learn and do her best. She was also a friend to everyone and lit up the classroom, and tried to include everyone and make everyone feel welcome.”
Livingston is going to study dental hygiene, but also said she may change her mind at SUU.
While she was only at Ridgeline for two years, Livingston definitely left her mark.
“I want to be remembered as a hard worker and someone that helps lift others up,” Livingston said. “At some games I could tell when some girls were a little antsy. I just tried to keep everybody calm. We all helped each other in different ways. I wanted to be a good leader and a good example to the younger girls I played with and the kids around the school. I just wanted to be positive and smile a lot.”