Harvey has overcome much during past 12 months
Former Dodger, Gael discusses ups, downs
The amount of highs, lows and everything in between Maggie Harvey has experienced in the past year would be enough to last a lifetime for most.
But as far as Harvey is concerned, it’s shaped her into the kind of student, softball player and mother that she has become.
Harvey, a five-time all-stater for Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond, finds it even hard to believe herself all that the past year has included.
“It’s been a crazy 12 months, that’s for sure,” says Harvey as she laughs. “It definitely feels like it’s been several years.”
The current chapter started in March 2019 when Harvey and her boyfriend, Justin Fausnaugh, welcomed Thielen into their world.
Following her standout career as both a Dodger and Gael, Harvey committed to Minnesota State University to play softball.
“After Thielen was born, it was time to grow up and get a career,” she said. “I didn’t know if that included going back to school or doing whatever a young mother would do. I was trying to see if I would do online classes to finish school or what when one day in May as Iowa Central was playing in the postseason I received a huge text from Coach (Rick) Sandquist.
“Coach Sandquist said he missed his opportunity to recruit me out of high school and was still beating himself up over it every single day. He said he just didn’t want to miss out on that same opportunity again.”
Harvey, who didn’t see action as a freshman at Minnesota State, was surprised by the message and wasn’t even sure if it was serious or possible.
“I called my mom right away and told her what he said and remember saying ‘Isn’t this so funny?’ Her response was, ‘Why don’t you do it?'”
It turned out to be the perfect time to get the message as Harvey called it a “chance to return home, to where I was my best self.”
Over the years, softball always was an out for the power-hitting catcher. She shined as an eighth-grader for St. Edmond before finishing her career with Andi Adams and Fort Dodge Senior High.
But between her final at-bat as a Dodger and her time in college, something changed.
“I wasn’t happy,” she said. “I can remember calling my dad and telling him I was going to quit school, come home and work with (brother) Frankie and just be done with softball. I was depressed, but I didn’t really know it. It was bothering me on the softball field, in school and in life.
“But Coach Sandquist, he really helped me start to get to where I wanted to be again. I don’t think there is anywhere else besides Iowa Central that I could have gone and done this. He never questioned me being a student, a softball player and a mother. None of the coaches did, none of my teammates did.
“I wanted to be treated the exact same as every other player and that’s what they did. But that’s not all I wanted out of this.”
Harvey found her higher calling this time around, seeking a way to be better at every aspect of life.
“I wanted to be that teammate Coach Adams taught me to be, that friend that (Iowa Central assistant coach) Bo (Tjebben) and Bre (Tjebben) wanted me to be for everyone else,” she said. “The entire team started calling me ‘Mom,’ which I liked, because I was older. But it fit because I wanted to be there for them.
“Everyone is always fighting their own battles in life, big or small it didn’t matter because if it was big to you, it was big to me and I want to be there to help you through it.”
Just as she was feeling familiar with her new surroundings, new teammates and new life, Harvey was dealt a huge blow to not only herself, but her entire family.
“A couple weeks after school started was when everything with Vinnie happened,” she said. “I told Coach Sandquist I didn’t know when I’d be back and he told me take as much time as you need and don’t worry about softball. My teammates, who I had known for two weeks for the most part, they were second-to-none in terms of being there, texting, calling, asking how I was doing. That just showed me we had something special this season because we had an incredible bond.
“Losing Vinnie, that was so tough for our entire family. I remember when we were still searching for him my dad brought us kids together and said, ‘Harvey means family and at the end of the day, that’s all you need, all you have and all that matters.’ Having Thielen was hard and I had to grow up really fast, and just when everything was getting to where I wanted to be, that’s when we lost Vinnie.
“It just goes to show, when it rains, it pours.”
In honor of her brother, a former standout football player and wrestler for the Gaels, Harvey went back to the grind. She found a balance between school, parenting and softball, hitting the diamond earlier this spring with the Tritons.
Harvey’s first at-bat brought her back to her eighth-grade year with St. Edmond when she was inserted into Paul Hunt’s lineup.
“I credit Coach Hunt with getting my career started like it did,” she said. “That first at-bat this year was just like my first time with him. He said the first at-bat didn’t matter, but it did.
“I was up there at the plate and I hadn’t seen live pitching in so long. I remember fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch, and I was shaking so much. I hate long at-bats, but I told myself I’m not striking out or grounding out, I was going to put the ball in the air.”
Moments later, Harvey connected, sending the ball over the fence for her first collegiate home run.
“As I got to first, Coach Tjebben said ‘Welcome back’ and everyone was crying, I was sobbing,” she said. “It just validated everything that I had been doing. I didn’t want to leave Florida and leave my son at home. I called my mom crying and she told me that this was the right thing to do.
“It was just the best feeling. I felt Vinnie there with me and it was crazy. I felt like I was making him proud, my family proud and Thielen proud.”
Harvey would hit eight more homers for the Tritons before the season was cut short by the NJCAA due to COVID-19. She was hitting .441 with 19 RBI, 16 runs and three steals, along with returning to her position behind home plate.
Iowa Central was ranked in the Top-20 and 15-4, having won six in a row when the decision came down.
“We were on such a good track to do something special,” Harvey said. “When we got the news, we just sobbed. There was nothing else we could do; every team in the nation was in the same boat as us.
“Coach Sandquist always told us we were going to be special because of the bond we shared with each other. It definitely wasn’t the finish that I wanted, but I hope I made the kind of impact on my teammates that they needed and I set an example for everyone else that given the situation you have, you can still do great things.”
Like many others, Harvey is now faced with making a decision about her immediate future. But this one involves more than just herself.
“Justin’s been my rock through all of this,” she said. “When I was deciding to come to Iowa Central or not, I asked Justin because we were living in Mason City at the time and he just told me to do whatever I wanted, that he’d go where I go.
“He’s been great. He’s the best dad for how old we are and I could never do this without him. He’s gone above and beyond my expectations.
“Iowa Central was never in my plans, but Coach Sandquist, he welcomed us and I could never thank him enough. Now, we’ll have to wait and see what’s next for all of us.”