Players of Pride Hall: Erica Hayes ’08

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Erica Hayes, class of 2008, went from shooting hoops during recess to playing at Utah Tech University (formerly Dixie State University) with a full-ride scholarship. “I started playing basketball around fourth grade, and only during recess at school, but I used to play with all the boys and was better than a lot of them. That is when I knew I had a love for basketball.” Hayes played for the M-A girls varsity team for four years, San Mateo Community College, Utah Tech University, and the Phoenix Ladies in a small town in Germany. Hayes was inducted into the M-A Hall of Fame in 2014.

Hayes in Pride Hall

When Hayes entered middle school, her passion for basketball grew outside of recess. She said, “I played at the Road Runners Sports Club in Menlo Park. From there, I played basketball in middle school at La Entrada.”

In high school, Hayes started on the JV team, but moved up to varsity towards the end of her freshman year. She said, “My M-A basketball experience was amazing, I always tell people that for me high school was one of the best times in my life, just having my own little family within basketball. Our team typically dominated in PALs.”

“After high school, I went to San Mateo Community College mainly because I wasn’t ready to go to a four year school or really commit to basketball, and I wanted to stay closer to home,” she said, “I brought my highlight films to the coach and she was thrilled, so I got on the team. After that I was offered a full-ride scholarship to Utah Tech University, and majored in communications.”

Hayes said, “What kept me motivated to play was knowing that I wanted more for myself. Growing up in East Palo Alto, I saw a lot of my friends and some of the people in my community weren’t going too far in life and didn’t really have too much going for themselves, and I knew I didn’t want that for my future, that gave me the drive to keep pushing. I also wanted to travel and see more of my life outside of the M-A area. Basketball was an outlet for me that allowed me to do that.”

The summer after college, Hayes traveled across the world to further her career. “I played with a team, the Phoenix Ladies. I sent them my tape and they liked it, so they paid for me to come out there and gave me a contract.”

“My experience was bittersweet. I was there for eight months and the style of basketball was very different. Adjusting to that was a difficult mental game. The food and rules were different, and nobody spoke English, but I definitely grew from that opportunity.”

Current P.E. teacher and former varsity girls basketball coach Pamela Wimberly nominated Hayes to the Hall of Fame. “I went to the induction ceremony. That experience was one of the highlights of my life, seeing other people who made it to the NFL, just being on stage with other phenomenal athletes.”

When Hayes came back to the U.S, she returned to M-A for two years to coach the girls JV basketball team. “Coming back to M-A to coach and be on staff was truly a full circle moment.”

Now, Hayes lives in Texas and works as a P.E. teacher and personal trainer. “I think knowing how to build and sustain your body and the things you need to stay motivated are both things I learned from basketball. I teach young kids, and basketball has definitely helped me do that. I even tell the kids some of the sayings Ms. [Pamela] Wimberly would tell us, ‘if you’re early you’re on time, and if you’re on time you’re late’ Those life lessons that I learned in basketball still play a role in my life today.”

She said, “Basketball shaped my life. The sport really prepares you for everything you’re going to experience in life, and gives you a lot of grit.”

When she was asked what advice she would give to student-athletes, she replied, “If you are going to go far in basketball or your sport, you have to put in what you want out of it. Success is not going to just come to you overnight and the work won’t do itself.”

Tessa is a junior in her second year of journalism. She enjoys co-writing for the Bears Doing Big Things column and the social trends happening at M-A. Tessa also enjoys playing tennis and is on the varsity team.

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