Women of Western Winners: Haven Buechner
Haven Buechner hails from Utah and is heading into her junior season at Skyridge High School. She was named first team all-region, first team all-state, she was a 2021 US lacrosse All-American and she was a Western Winners Showcase all-star. She is already committed to the University of Richmond as a junior. We caught up with Haven before the start of her junior year to ask her about her experiences at Western Winners and how it helped her become the player she is today:
What is your favorite Western Winners Showcase memory?
Haven Buechner: My favorite memory is the celebrations my team came up with during the games. They were over-the-top and funny and brought so much energy to our sidelines! After losing our first game, we ended up making the playoffs and ultimately winning the championship, but the celebrations are what I remember most about that crazy team!.
How did Western Winners impact your recruiting journey?
HB: It was being able to get coached at an individual level by such a variety of coaches. It helped me figure out which coaching styles work best for me, which ended up being a deciding factor in my recruiting process.
What is your favorite lacrosse memory so far?
HB: Watching the PLL when they came to Salt Lake City for the quarterfinals! I am a huge fan of the PLL and being able to finally see the action in person after following the league for three years was a dream come true and better than I can put into words. I’ve only ever watched those three games in person, but they ended up being the last games of two legends, a Whips/Woods one-goal playoff game, and the start of Chaos’ playoff run of destiny… just the best!
What is one thing you still use to this day from your Western Winners experience?
HB: I learned how to play man-down defense on a 3v2, 4v3, or really any fast break situation. I use the communication and sliding and positioning that I learned at Western Winners every time I’m on the defensive side of a fast break. It’s really calming to be able to formulize the motions and know what I’m doing in a situation that’s usually very stressful for the defense.
What are your personal and team goals for your upcoming high school season?
HB: My team goal with Skyridge is to win the 6A State Championship. It’s always been a goal of ours, and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do it yet, but it would be amazing to get it done for our twelve seniors. My personal goal is to play more like a college player – speeding up my decision-making, making the right play, and getting stronger and faster.
Why did you choose Richmond?
HB: It was a perfect fit for high-level academics and lacrosse, and the campus is beautiful! The thing that impressed me most about Richmond was their unmatched student-athlete support and commitment to wellness and mental health. The team was also so close-knit, and I loved the coaches’ focus and the way they approached practice.
What are you looking forward to the most at Richmond?
HB: I’m looking forward to the whole college student-athlete experience! I can’t wait to get up early in the morning and be busy all day with school and lacrosse and training and go to bed exhausted each night and do it all again the next day. And I can’t wait to do it all with an insane team who will become my best friends. Lastly, I’m looking forward to going to any sporting event I can get to, whether that is football, basketball, soccer, or men’s lacrosse games!
Haven’s mother, Michelle, further discussed how she found out about Western Winners and the role it played in helping Haven in her development into a Division 1 athlete:
Why did you initially choose to send Haven to the Western Winners?
Michelle Buechner: Despite lacrosse being an emerging sport in Utah, we have been very fortunate to have a legend in the lacrosse world settle right here in our backyard. Theresa Sherry, a national champion at Princeton and former Head Coach at Cal Berkeley, organized a Western Winners camp in Park City, UT last summer. In watching Theresa take an interest in helping our girls develop their skills, we were most impressed with the emphasis she placed on their development off the field, helping mold the girls into strong women. Even before we saw the extensive list of so many impressive college coaches that would be in attendance, our girls were all in.
How do you think Haven benefitted from her experience at Western Winners?
MB: Of all the camps and other events our daughters attended across the country last year, Western Winners stood out. In our opinion, they’ve developed the perfect format. First, the girls are involved in drills with direct coaching by every coach in attendance. During drills, the college coaches closely watch and evaluate the campers so they can “draft” teams for the next stage of camp. Then during full games, they coach the teams and ratchet up the intensity and individual instruction, while maintaining a positive atmosphere. These types of events can feel intense for the wrong reasons, but Western Winners kept it fun and constructive.
How do you think Western Winners helped in Haven’s decision-making process as she was being recruited?
MB: Haven specifically mentioned to us that as she had exposure to so many amazing coaches, she began to form her own opinion about what coaching styles appealed most to her. Haven’s older sister, River (class of ’22) was also at Western Winners. She ended up being drafted to a team led by Coach Sarah Queener from Pomona College in California. Coach Queener was able to observe her up close as a player and teammate. That interaction was invaluable to River’s recruiting process as a little later that summer, Coach Queener offered her a spot and River committed to the Sagehens.
What advice do you have for parents going through the recruiting process?
MB: We enjoyed talking to parents of other girls in the area who had recently gone through the recruiting process. Ultimately, the best advice we would give when trying to find the right school is to cast a wide net. Really look hard at any and all schools that express interest. In the end, both of our girls feel like they found the perfect fit. Though, in both cases, the school they ended up at was not one they had originally considered or reached out to before being contacted by the coaches. Even if there is one school your daughter has her heart set on, we found events like Western Winners to be the most valuable – one where they will be seen by multiple accomplished coaches from all levels of college lacrosse.
Thanks Buechner Family! We look forward to seeing Haven continue to dominate at the Winners Showcase and look forward to both Haven and River play at Richmond and Pomona Pitzer in the future!