SE: Haddock Handles Tourette Syndrome, Change of Scenery Well for K-State Soccer

It’s irrational but uncontrollable at the same time. It’s like an itch that can’t be ignored. It’s not life threatening but it is certainly life altering. 

Krista Haddock remembers having it since elementary school, but until she was about 15 years old she didn’t realize “it” was Tourette syndrome.  

“I didn’t know that it was abnormal that I had felt these tics,” Haddock, a redshirt freshman forward for K-State’s soccer team, said. “They classified it more as an anxiety-induced tic. Basically, the more stressed out I am, the worse it gets.”

Tourette syndrome, for the majority of people who live without it, can be hard to understand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies have found about 1 out of every 360 children ages 6-17 (about 138,000 people) in the United States are diagnosed with it. Separate studies indicate that the number is closer to 1 of every 162 children, suggesting that about half of those affected by it are undiagnosed. 

Tourette syndrome cases vary greatly in levels of severity, and, many times, symptoms decrease as those affected reach adulthood. For Haddock, however, she’s still dealing with it while continuing a passion in soccer, a sport filled with stress and anxiety. 

“Soccer does bring it out. It’s weird to me how some people do and don’t notice it,” she said, adding that those in the stands usually notice before teammates and coaches. “They’ll ask me after the game, ‘What was that you were doing?’ And it was because I get so into the game and so stressed out that it brings some of (my tics) out.”

A tic can be as subtle as shoulder shrugging or eye blinking, but the urge to do so is impossible to resist. 

“It’s kind of like when you get an itch and you need to scratch it, but it’s more like a feeling I get that I need to do something,” Haddock said. “It’s kind of like flexing a muscle and I have no reason to need to flex that muscle, but something in my mind is telling me, ‘Do it. Do it. Do it.’ I’ll try to put it off, but eventually I have to do it.”

To manage it, Haddock said the key is to avoid stress. Medication can also help with anxiety, she said, but it also has its negative effects.

“Being that I’m so heavily involved in athletics, anything that’s going to help bring down my anxiety or bring down my tics and the muscle movement is usually a type of medication that wants to move you toward relaxation,” she said, “but I’m so busy, so high functioning and so athletic that I don’t want to be relaxed. So usually I move away from the medications because I’d rather deal with it and still be my awake, higher-energy self.” 

Haddock deals with it fairly effectively. She’s even developed methods to hide it, such as turning a tic into what looks like a natural movement. These have kept many people from noticing, as even K-State head coach Mike Dibbini, who originally recruited her to Cal Poly Pomona, was unaware of it until this week. 

“She hides it really well,” said junior Addie Jenkins, close friends with Haddock. “I kind of noticed the eye thing that she does, but other than that I really didn’t notice it until it came up in a conversation. A lot of people are shocked when they find out.”

To avoid the shock, Haddock tends to bring it up to people she’ll be around a lot.

“I feel like telling people up front takes away the embarrassment for me and for themselves,” Haddock said, “because a lot of times people feel rude saying something about it and then finding out it’s because of something I can’t really control.”

What Haddock can control is her love for soccer, which she started playing before she was seven years old and has excelled at ever since. The Hemet, California, native scored 80 goals and dished out 37 assists in high school, earning her three All-California Interscholastic Federation selections.  

With her focus set on playing collegiate soccer, Haddock originally verbally committed to Cal Poly Pomona, a Division II school in her home state where the idea of playing for Dibbini was advantageous for a number of reasons. 

Her reasons wouldn’t change but her destination would. While on Twitter one day, Haddock came across the news of Dibbini accepting the job at K-State, opening up the door to her dream of playing in the Big 12. 

“I jumped at my opportunity into the conference,” said Haddock, part of the inaugural K-State signing class. “A lot of his offensive strategies and ideologies go along with my kind of playing style, and the way that he wants to play possession is something that I really like. And Mike likes players with speed and I need a coach that likes speed because that’s kind of one of my strengths.”

For Dibbini, bringing in a player like Haddock, whose skillset can be hard to match at any level, was a no-brainer. 

“She has the tools that not a lot of players have and that’s the speed. If we get her in open space, it’s hard to catch her. At this level, having speed kills and she has it,” he said. “Getting her the opportunity to use it is the part that we’re still working on and once we do find it and figure it out, I think it’s going to be something that’s going to be deadly for us in the future.”

Haddock’s speed may be her most obvious strength, but she adds an immense amount to the Wildcats’ first-year program outside of it. 

“She’s really smart in the game of soccer — really smart. She has, obviously, her speed but also she’s got quick moves and she brings another energy level and another attitude to uplift us,” Jenkins said. “When we’re down or we need something to pick us up, she brings that in for us.”

Off the field, Jenkins said Haddock brings a number of personality traits that add up to a special combination. 

“She’s funny. She’s kind. She’s got a little sass in her. She really is down to Earth. She is really honest with you and she has a great heart,” Jenkins said. “She knows how to confront someone about something and also how to comfort them too when they need it, which is awesome, especially for the new team that we have.”

While adjusting to new teammates, Haddock also had to become acquainted with a new region of the country where there’s “less traffic” and “more trees,” along with the Midwest’s different brand of soccer, highlighted by more physical play. 

So far, Haddock has played in all nine matches for K-State (2-5-2) and recorded 270 minutes in them, including 20 in the Wildcats’ home opener last Friday when attendance reached 2,403. 

“Nobody even knows if we’re good or not and we have an amazing crowd,” Haddock said of K-State, which has home matches against Oral Roberts on Friday at 7 p.m., and South Dakota on Sunday at 1 p.m. “The fact that people are supporting a team that’s going to, obviously, have first-year struggles and have to work out a lot of kinks, it just makes me so excited for when we actually have reached our high point and we are doing really well. 

“If our support is here now, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when we’ve reached our goal.”