By Peter Sowards
As the daughter of the University of Washington’s first women’s basketball hall of fame inductee, Hayley Hodgins’ emergence as a top scoring threat for the Eagles was inevitable.
Inserted into the starting lineup by coach Wendy Schuller on Jan. 19 vs. Northern Colorado after coming off the bench the previous 16 games, Hodgins shot a perfect 7-7 from the field en route to her second straight career-high scoring output with 17 points. She captured the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball player of the week award in the process and set yet another career-high two days later, scoring 22 points in a 68-56 win at Portland State, the Eagles’ third win in a row.
“I don’t think of myself any different now that I’m starting,” said Hodgins, a redshirt-freshman and Pasco, Wash., native. “I’m still trying to do what’s best for the team and I think people off the bench are still doing what they have done all year.”
Hodgins’ mom, Karen Hodgins, formerly Karen Murray, starred at Washington from 1981 to 1984 and still stands as the university’s career record-holder in field-goal percentage. Her dad, Mike Hodgins, coached Karen when she played professional basketball in Europe and coaches an AAU basketball team. Both parents run coaching sessions on the weekends in Pasco.
“My parents have always had basketball clinics that they run,” Hodgins said. “I’ve been in the gym forever.”
For EWU women’s basketball coach Wendy Schuller, this was music to her ears.
“I love the fact that she was a coach’s kid and has basketball in her bloodline,” Schuller said.
Basketball is not the only thing she took from her parents. Named to the EWU Dean’s List each of the last four quarters, Hodgins takes her education very seriously. “School’s always been really important to me—my family doesn’t stand for bad grades,” Hodgins said. “You’re a student athlete so you have to be a student first.” Hodgins allocates her time wisely, studying in between the breaks after classes end and before practices start.
“For us as coaches, she’s easy,” said Schuller, speaking to Hodgins’ maturity and intelligence. “We don’t have to follow her around and make sure she’s in class. She’s a very conscientious student and works very hard—we knew that when we recruited her.”
When Schuller asked Hodgins to use the 2011-2012 season as a redshirt season, Hodgins weighed the pros and cons of the decision. “There were more pros to it than cons,” Hodgins said. “Now I’m a freshman but I have sophomore experience with plays and just knowing the team and how the team runs. I think it worked out 100 percent better than it would have if I didn’t redshirt.”
With all the talent returning at the guard position in the 2011-2012 season, Schuller did not envision Hodgins logging meaningful minutes. “Coming in as a freshman, we didn’t see her playing a lot immediately,” Schuller said. “I think just getting a feel for the physicality of the college game and the speed of the college game [helped her].”
Despite just recently joining the starting rotation, Hodgins said she is “working up to” becoming a leader on the team. “I’m technically only a freshman so I look up to a lot of my older teammates, obviously, because they know a lot more about the team and the Big Sky [Conference] than I do,” Hodgins said. “Hopefully I can be in a leader[ship] position in the future and I hope people look up to me as being a leader, too.”
Hodgins originally had interest in majoring in engineering but has switched focuses to health services administration. “I was thinking of nursing but it’s just really hard to do with basketball, so I can always go into that after if I want to with this major,” she said.
At this moment, however, basketball is at the forefront of Hodgins’ mind, and she is seeing the culmination of her efforts.
“I’ve been working for this my whole life, and it’s finally paying off.”