Chelsea Hardgrave still considers Huntington Beach her hometown, but the Ocean View High senior has moved all around growing up.
Hardgrave said she was born in Mexico City and she has lived in San Jose and Atlanta. She settled in Huntington Beach while in middle school, but in seventh grade the family moved to Bangalore, India.
Hardgrave’s father, Steve, was starting his own business, which gives loans to schools in low-income areas. India qualified, so Chelsea got ready for the biggest move yet.
“It was a big adjustment, to say the least,” said Chelsea, who enrolled at Bangalore International School. “Everything’s just so different. But when you get used to it, you find the similarities. It’s quite modern there. I’m glad I went.”
But she was also glad to come back to Surf City. Missing home and wanting an opportunity to play higher-level soccer, she left her parents in India and came back to Huntington Beach in December 2016. She moved in with her grandparents, Cindy and Terry.
Chelsea enrolled at Ocean View the following month, but did not play high school soccer as a junior for the Seahawks. Her senior year this season would be her first taste of that experience.
Coach Jose Sanchez and the Seahawks would say that Chelsea Hardgrave has made herself right at home. The senior forward leads Ocean View with seven goals, and she is second on the team with five assists. She has become the goal scorer that Ocean View needed, following the graduation of Kaci Montoya last year.
Even at 5-foot-7 and just 110 pounds, Hardgrave has almost matched her jersey No. 8 in terms of goals scored.
“People are like, ‘You play soccer, not track or volleyball or something?’” Hardgrave said. “I just have to say, I’m a lot tougher than I look. But yeah, sometimes I’m at a disadvantage. Teams target you a lot. They’re like, ‘There’s this tiny girl, let’s go get her.’ But I’m kind of strong, or I can totally get back at them with my speed.”
Ocean View struggled in the preseason, winning just one game. Sanchez said the absence of junior center back Nancy Cabrera, who is one of three team captains along with senior midfielders Micayla Shook and Iran Enriquez, hurt the Seahawks. Cabrera has missed time with two different concussions and a sore lower back, Sanchez said, forcing him to put two freshmen — Aislinn Hernandez and Linda Martinez — at center back.
But Hardgrave has helped the Seahawks stay competitive in the Golden West League, though they are out of the hunt as far as winning their fourth straight league title.
“I thought we were lacking that player who could dribble through two or three defenders, but Chelsea is able to do that,” Sanchez said. “She gets the ball and she’s not afraid of taking on defenders. She looks skinny, but she’s pretty strong, and she always wants the ball. I think that’s a really good quality for her.”
With two games remaining, Ocean View (4-10-4, 3-2-3 in league) is in third place behind Westminster (7-0-1 in league) and Santa Ana (6-1-2).
Ocean View has 13 points. The Seahawks have three regulation wins worth three points each, plus penalty-kick wins against Segerstrom and Santa Ana and a penalty-kick loss against Segerstrom. Ocean View athletic director Tim Walsh said that penalty-kick wins, though they technically count as a tie, are worth two points instead of one in the league. A penalty-kick loss is worth one point.
Segerstrom is 3-3-2 in league with one of the ties being a penalty-kick win, so the Jaguars have 12 points and are in fourth place.
The Seahawks, who play host to Westminster on Saturday and at last-place Orange on Tuesday, need to finish ahead of Segerstrom and earn the automatic berth to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs. With a sub-.500 overall record, they will be unable to earn an at-large berth.
The math is complicated, but one thing is for sure. Hardgrave is enjoying her first and only season playing for the Seahawks. After she graduates, she said she plans to enroll in community college and study business and economics before transferring to a university.
Maybe someday, she will be the one starting her own business.
“Fingers crossed,” she said. “That would be cool.”
Born: Nov. 24, 2000
Hometown: Huntington Beach
Height: 5 feet 7
Coach: Jose Sanchez
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: “Mean Girls”
Favorite athletic moment: Competing against Segerstrom in the Golden West League opener on Jan. 9.
Week in review: Hardgrave had three goals and two assists in a 10-0 Golden West League win over Orange on Jan. 23, then helped the Seahawks defeat Segerstrom in penalty kicks on Jan. 25.