Shaped by Service: How Growing Up in Military Families Impacted Croix Bethune & Hal Hershfelt

Washington Spirit  |   May 14, 2024
Shaped by Service: How Growing Up in Military Families Impacted Croix Bethune & Hal Hershfelt Featured Image

Constantly being on the move is nothing new to first-year Spirit players Croix Bethune and Hal Hershfelt. The two breakout midfielders learned to handle and adapt to change well while growing up in military families. Bethune, an Atlanta area native, spent about four years of her childhood in England while both her parents were active duty members of the United States Air Force. Hershfelt, who was born in San Diego, lived all over the southeastern U.S. before attending college in Clemson, South Carolina.

“We lived in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi while I was growing up,” said Hershfelt. “My dad was an infantry officer in the military for 30-plus years and just recently retired.”

Growing up in military households and ever-changing environments had a major impact on both Hershfelt’s and Bethune’s development as well, both in their personalities and values as well as their soccer careers.

“In addition to structure, I feel like my parents have raised me in a way to be respectful, not just to my elders, but to anyone,” said Bethune. “The way that I act toward people and the way that I speak – a lot of people have pointed out how I always say ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘yes sir’ – that’s just how my parents raised me.”

Though she attributes much of her values to her military upbringing, Bethune acknowledges that her formative years in England played a major role in her soccer development. Living abroad while her parents served on base in England, Bethune had a different experience than many of her future college and professional teammates.

“[Growing up in a military family] played a big role in shaping my soccer life,” said Bethune. “I did start playing soccer in the U.S. when I was about three but, over in England, they didn’t have any girls teams so I was playing with boys at a very young age and I feel like it made a difference.”

Bethune also credits the more European style of play as an influence on her game today. She describes the style she played growing up as more patient than parts of the U.S. game. Despite staying domestically, Hershfelt has noticed a similar trend through constantly playing in different places.

“Moving around so much, I’ve had to play with so many different people and teams and you kind of have to cater to their playing style wherever you go,” said Hershfelt. “That has helped my development in the long run. I would classify my playing style as blue collar work ethic. I’m pretty adaptable on the field, I can kind of go into a few positions and a few roles.”

As the Spirit celebrates its Salute to Service match this week honoring the many brave servicemen and women in the United States history, it’s important to recognize the stories of those who have served and the sacrifices made by and impact on their families as well.

“You make a lot of sacrifices,” Hershfelt continued. “[Celebrating Salute to Service] is something that should be honored because I don’t think a lot of people understand the sacrifices that not only [service members] but their families make as well.”

It’s only fitting that two of the league’s brightest young talents who were raised by service members now represent a region with strong military ties, showcasing skills on and off the pitch shaped by their unique journeys.

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