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Senior Spotlight: Sara Hairfield

Senior Spotlight: Sara Hairfield
By Leora Tanjuatco

Some people get nervous when you shove a tape recorder in their face, press record and ask them to encapsulate their personality in a few well-chosen words.

But Sara Hairfield, in the span of 10 minutes, revealed her laidback and cheerful attitude in the explanation of her nickname. According to the senior goalkeeper, teammate Whitaker Hagerman asked her early into their first year together if she could call her "Hairy," an obviously humorous abbreviation of her last name.

Hairfield replied with a timid " can call me that, but no one else can. I wouldn't want that to spread."

The next thing she knew, it had caught on, and now even today, her coaches are referring to her as "Hairy."

"It stuck because a lot of things can be tagged onto 'Hairy.' Hairy legs... basically hairy anything, although not true at all" she recounts with a smile.

The nickname began as a necessity; the presence of Sarah Hackman required that both of these teammates respond to something other than "Sara." Three years later, Hairy is officially her nickname and apparently the subject of a feature story.

Hairfield herself isn't innocent of perpetuating this pet name. "I sign my emails 'Hairy,' which definitely sustains it, even though everyone knows that my name is Sara."

Her nickname isn't without restrictions, however. "The worst is when boys call me 'Hairy,'" she says with a smile. Punctuating her words with laughter and a comedic snapping of her fingers, Hairfield explains that her nickname is limited to members of the female sex. "No guy can call me 'Hairy!' I don't care if you know that's my nickname, my name is Sara to them!"

For all her ability to laugh at herself, Hairfield (am I allowed to call her Hairy?) is serious about her schoolwork. An economics and Spanish double major, her spare time has been scarce these past four years.

As an undergraduate student, Hairfield has been greatly influenced by the faculty at Virginia. When asked about her favorite professor, she responded with, "Can I have two? One for each major?"

Hairfield credits Spanish teaching assistant Andrea Smith with her fluency in the language. "She is the teacher who helped me understand Spanish. We had to write a lot of papers, but after that class I walked away feeling like I could actually understand it as a language. It wasn't like jumping through the hoops and just doing worksheets."

As for economics, Professor Edwin Burton had the most profound impact on her. "He's probably the only professor that I've gotten to know outside of the classroom," Hairfield explains.

As for life after graduation, the soon-to-be Virginia alum is on the track for success.

"I currently have a year-long internship at The Ivy Groupit's a marketing agency on the downtown mall. I would love to stay in Charlottesville for the summer, but I eventually want to move back to Richmond.  And I would love to go to graduate school. But I also want to try and travel a little bit next year."

Hairfield is already a seasoned traveler, as she has spent time in Argentina and also traveled to El Progreso, Honduras with a club called Students Helping Holduras. “We went to Honduras and helped build houses for a squatter village called Siete de Abril,” Hairfield explained. “We also spent time with the girls and boys at Copprome Orphanage.”

Hairfield has also spent time in South America, where she’s anxious to return.

"If I could go anywhere, I would go back to Brazil,” Hairfield said. “It was phenomenal and I would love to learn Portuguese."

Brazil is closely followed by the country of her second choice: Italy. "I have family friends in Italythey own a vineyard there and it would be ideal if I could go visit them," Hairfield says.

But before her diploma is framed and her international adventures begin, Hairfield has one more season as a Cavalier. "I have really high expectations for the team this year," she beams. "I feel really strongly about my class, both on the field and off the field. I know everyone's very dedicated and I really look forward to getting into the grind of a lot of games. I also look forward to the upperclassmen meshing with the first-years. Once we get that down, we'll be great."




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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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