In three months’ time Tauranga City basketballer Hayley Dawson will swap Kiwi life for the bright lights of New York, where she will play ball on a scholarship and study environmental science.
The 18-year-old received a whopping 18 basketball scholarship offers from across America – which she has narrowed down to choose Jamestown Community College in New York, where she will be part of the women’s basketball team, the Jayhawks.
Hayley, who has played basketball for both Tauranga City and Rotorua basketball associations and Tauranga Girls’ College, has always wanted to go to New York.
She was playing basketball in Rotorua last April when she got serious about what she wanted to do with her life. “I asked my coach how her daughter went to America. I messaged one of my coaches, Chris Vaughan, and told him I was keen to go to the States,” says Hayley.
“Chris came to watch me play in June and invited me to a basketball camp. He helped me put together some highlight reels and sent my application off to about 678 colleges and coaches.
“We got about 80 responses saying they were interested, and then about 18 scholarship offers.”
Hayley has chosen Jamestown College as it stood out the most to her….and: “Well, it’s New York – you gotta go to New York!”
“It [Jamestown College] had an amazing feel, it had a cool coach, the degree I wanted and a great community.
“Even some of the players reached out and said they were keen to have me there and I can reach out if I ever need anything. It felt so cool to be so welcomed, even if it was over the phone.”
Although her scholarship starts in August, Hayley is hoping to about a month earlier “so we can explore and have a bit of a holiday before it gets colder”.
Hayley says she’s continued to pursue basketball since she was about six years old as it is something she can always go back to if she’s having a bad day. “It’s always there for me; I can just go onto the driveway and start shooting some hoops.
“It’s something I have always done; my mum played it too, so it’s just something I can always go back to.”
Hayley has also provided coaching at Papamoa College as a way to give back to her community.
“I love being able to give back and grow the women’s space in basketball. Seeing the young girls shine and not be pushed to the side is very cool.”
Hayley says her mum and dad are “super proud”. So is her brother. “He says he won’t miss me but deep down I know he will.”
Hayley says there is so many people she is thankful for that helped her get to where she is today.
“I am so thankful for my basketball families at Tauranga City basketball, and Papamoa basketball, Rotorua basketball, as well as the girls’ college team.
“My mum, Justine, my dad, Aaron. My Nan and Grandad have also been so supportive. I couldn’t have gotten this far without any of them.”
She is also very thankful for her coach Chris Vaughan, for putting her in the vision of all the American colleges. “I wouldn’t be going without him; he is the reason I have this amazing opportunity.”
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