By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State University sophomore basketball player Hailey Garrett has quickly been able to translate the success she enjoyed at North Marion High School, where she was a member of three straight state championship teams, to the college level.
And even though her transition was smooth largely in part to familiarity, as she still lives at home and plays alongside a few of her former high school teammates, she still remembers a defining moment during her freshman season when she and her FSU teammates were able to let down their guards down and became a closer team.
“We went to a teammate’s house and had dinner,” Garrett said. “I was trying to go outside and a screen door was there and I just kind of plowed right through it. That was kind of the ice breaker for everybody.”
Ever since, Garrett, who was selected to the WVIAC All-Freshman team last season, said that she and her teammates like to spend time together and support one another even outside the realm of practices and games.
“I try to be a good friend and be there for them if they ever need anything,” Garrett said.
Garrett, a 6-0 forward, has chemistry with all of her teammates, but she has a longstanding history with a select group who donned the black and white of the North Marion Huskies with her just a few short years ago.
“You have your support system with you. Everything I had in high school transferred over to college,” Garrett said. “Being able to play with my former teammates is awesome and whether you mean to or not, you still kind of look for them first.”
Another perk to staying in Fairmont is Garrett’s ability to remain close to her family.
“What really sold me about Fairmont State was the fact that I was close to home and my little brother,” she said.
Steve McDonald, head coach of FSU’s women’s basketball team, said that even though Garrett hails from just down the road, that doesn’t mean a lot of time and effort didn’t go into recruiting her for his team.
“We were recruiting Hailey for two to three years,” he said. “She didn’t come here by accident. We put a lot of work into it.”
McDonald also said that Garrett’s decision to commit to her hometown school has provided some very special opportunities.
“When she can play in front of her parents, family, extended family and other people from around the county, that’s huge,” McDonald said. “If you can pick the right school for you academically that’s also the right school for you in sports, it’s just a win-win for everybody and it’s certainly very special for Hailey.”
Garrett, who has averaged 13.3 ppg this season for the Falcons, said that her family has been key to her basketball career from the beginning.
“What really motivated me to start playing and keep playing was my mom and my family,” she said. “They always pushed me, were always there for me and made me do my best every time.”
Garrett started playing basketball on the boys’ team in the fourth grade.
“I didn’t know if there was a girls’ team or not,” she said.
Once she realized there was, she transferred to the girls’ team and soon began playing for Coach Jeff Hyde at Mannington Middle School, who she said was a key figure in her development as a player.
“All the credit goes to him,” Garrett said.
Garrett’s athletic ability wasn’t limited to just basketball, however. She also ran cross country and played softball and volleyball.
“I just did anything that was active,” Garrett said.
When she’s not expending energy on the court, though, Garrett said she spends the majority of her time focusing on school. An exercise science and pre-pharmacy major, Garrett has an ultimate goal of attending pharmacy school.
“Hailey’s an excellent student,” McDonald said. “She brings so much more than what she does on the basketball court as a representative of Fairmont State.”
As for basketball, Garrett hopes that she and her team, which enters today’s home game against Ohio Valley with a record of 18-9, can continue to improve in the coming weeks, months and years.
“I hope we continue to get better and eventually get to an NCAA tournament,” she said.
Email Kaylyn Christopher at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.