St. Charles North’s Hailey Rydberg receives honor in memorable fashion
CHICAGO – Hailey Rydberg was supposed to meet up with her friends at Lollapalooza on Aug. 6.
She had to make a memorable pit stop at Wrigley Field instead.
The St. Charles North senior was awarded the PepsiCo Showdown tournament MVP belt in a surprise ceremony before the Chicago Cubs game against the Washington Nationals.
Under the impression she had to attend the Cubs game in order to watch her dad throw out the first pitch, she watched batting practice from the field. Then while touring the dugout, Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks emerged and presented a shocked Rydberg with the MVP belt.
“What? Are you kidding? What is going on?” Rydberg said on film after Hendricks surprised her with the MVP belt. “Wait – was this planned? Thank you so much. Thank you.”
The PepsiCo Showdown is the largest high school soccer tournament in the country with 216 schools and more than 21,500 student-athletes participating each year across boys and girls tournaments.
Rydberg was selected as MVP from more than 3,000 players. She scored two goals and handed out six assists in four PepsiCo Showdown games as St. Charles North captured its first PepsiCo Showdown title in April with a 4-3 win against Lake Forest.
For the 2017 season, Rydberg finished with 16 goals and 12 assists, helping lead the North Stars to a 19-1-3 overall record, Upstate Eight River, regional and sectional titles, and an Elite Eight appearance in the state tournament.
“Hailey often makes difficult plays look effortless,” St. Charles North coach Brian Harks said in a news release. “She is truly an exceptional soccer player.”
A key player on the field, Rydberg also is a key figure off it. This spring, Rydberg volunteered at Feed My Starving Children to help give back to those less fortunate.
Receiving the MVP honor from a Cubs player in a surprise ceremony would have made for a memorable day in and of itself, but Rydberg got to have her cake and eat it, too. She was able to go to Lollapalooza later in the day after the surprise of a lifetime.
“I’m very surprised. I was not expecting this at all, so it’s an awesome thing. Very exciting,” Rydberg told media gathered near the Cubs’ dugout after receiving the belt. “I’m here on the field at the Cubs game and I just got this amazing award, and then I get to go have some fun with my friends.”