Erin and Hayden Livingston form ‘athletic power couple’ at BYU

It’s hard to imagine life outside of being a student athlete can exist, especially when looking at the time-consuming schedules BYU football and women’s volleyball players follow each day. However, Erin and Hayden Livingston have not only managed to excel in their sports, but have also found time to dedicate to one another.

Erin is an outside hitter on the BYU women’s volleyball team, a top performer with more than 352 kills in 2022 and 747 over the past three years. Hayden is a defensive back for the Cougars, racking up 37 total tackles since 2019 and grabbing a pair of interceptions in 2021.

The couple met in 2019, got married in 2020 and have been sharing their college experiences together ever since. 

“It’s been a really fun two years being here together and playing sports,” Erin said.

Hayden hails from Rigby, Idaho and started at BYU in 2016 as a redshirt before taking time off to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After returning home from the Leeds, England mission, Hayden rejoined the Cougars prior to the 2019 season, when California native Erin was starting her freshman season for BYU women’s volleyball.

When Erin was younger, she originally didn’t play volleyball. She started out playing soccer at the age of five and took dance lessons as well. Volleyball was introduced to Erin through her brother who encouraged her to play based on her height, but she stuck with soccer.

Volleyball didn’t take center stage in Erin’s life until she attended a volleyball club tryout for her sister. One of the coaches came up to her and commented on her height and asked if she played. When her response was no, the coach knew it was time to change that. After hitting the ball around a few times, a new passion evolved inside Erin. 

“I felt at home when I got into the volleyball gym,” Erin said. “Everyone was like me. I found so much joy in playing.”

Volleyball became a sanctuary for Erin. It kept her busy and on the right path in her life. She developed close friendships and her teams have become family to her. 

“Volleyball has always pushed me to do my best,” Erin said.

Hayden, on the other hand, started out playing flag football with all of his friends when he was little. As his friends began playing tackle football, Hayden wanted to join them, but his father Jeremy — a former quarterback at Rick’s College — had a few thoughts prior to the transition. 

“My dad told me in order to play tackle football, I had to do a couple of things,” Hayden said. “I had to be the hardest worker and the best teammate,” Hayden said.

Hayden would begin his tackle football career in middle school, where he caught a go-ahead, Hail Mary touchdown in his very first game. From that point on, Hayden was hooked. 

BYU was an easy choice for Hayden as it had everything he wanted in terms of athletics, education and spirituality. His love for head coach Kalani Sitaki was also a major factor in his final decision.

“I think football teaches a lot of valuable life lessons that you might not get elsewhere. The biggest one is teamwork,” Hayden said. “College football has taught me a lot about grit and determination.” 

A difficult roadblock the Livingstons have faced in marriage is time apart. With traveling, practice and games, there is very little time Hayden and Erin get to spend with each other.  

“There are times she will leave on a Wednesday and won’t be back until Saturday, or I’ll leave on a Thursday and won’t be back until Saturday,” Hayden said. “Spending significant periods of times apart during the season is annoying sometimes, but we knew what we signed up for.”

However, the couple has taken this negative and turned it into a positive. With the little time they have together, Erin and Hayden have learned to cherish each other even more and use that time wisely by being present with one another.

“Being grateful for that time we have with each other has helped us a ton,” Erin said.

The offseason has allowed them to spend more quality time together, but Hayden and Erin have found ways to still have fun with one another during their seasons by prioritizing one another.

“We try to maximum the time we have together,” Hayden said. “We try to get our homework done and take care of other things so we can make the most of that time.”

Hayden and Erin’s parents have been a huge support for the couple. Anytime Hayden can’t make one of Erin’s games, her family and his family will do what they can to be there to support her, and the same goes for Hayden and his games.

Erin’s mom, Michelle Anderson, has not only been a supporting force in the couple’s life but has also had a front row seat when it comes to watching Erin and Hayden grow as a couple.

“As they settle into marriage, I have seen them both become more understanding toward each other and their needs,” Anderson said. “I think it really helps that they are both doing the same thing. It helps them to better understand each other. They can be supportive to each other.. they are able to talk through the wins and the losses, the good days and the bad.”

Despite the adversity, the Livingstons have persevered in order to grow individually and as a couple. Their unique situation has helped them to be the spouse the other needs, both on and off the field.

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