HERMISTON — Hayden Meyers’ final week as a Hermiston High student will be one to remember.
Not just because graduation is on Saturday and her graduation party is on Friday, but also because of what happened on Monday afternoon is what pushed it over the top. Surrounded by dozens of friends, family and fellow Bulldogs, Meyers signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Blue Mountain Community College in a ceremony in the Hermiston High commons.
“This was the perfect way to start it and end it,” Meyers said of her final week at Hermiston, with a wide smile on her face.
Meyers was known more for her defensive abilities than her offense in the Bulldogs uniform, which is what helped her get noticed by BMCC coach Adam Driver. After watching a game in person, BMCC’s fourth-year coach caught Hermiston’s game against Pendleton on Feb. 9 on television and liked what he saw from Meyers.
“He told me I did a good job guarding (Pendleton’s) Haley Greb,” Meyers recalled. “I was like ‘Thank you’ and said any time you need me to come practice I will. I then got a text asking me to come to open gyms, right after my senior season ended.
“I’ve always wanted to be a basketball coach which is why I’ve been pushing myself to be in college athletics.”
Blue Mountain is coming off a forgettable 2016-17 season in which the Timberwolves finished in the basement of the NWAC East Region with a 3-20 overall record and a 1-15 regional record. But the Timberwolves have only a few returning players from last season’s squad, and after allowing an average of 78.7 points per game — highest in the NWAC — Meyers hopes she can use her defensive abilities right away.
“I’m hoping to fill a big role, a defensive role at least is where I’d like to see myself,” Meyers said. “But I’d also like to see myself do more offensively than I have in the past. I’ve been trying to push myself and I’m going to get in the gym with (HHS athletic director) Larry Usher this summer and push myself to be more of an offensive threat.”
She won’t be the only local athlete suiting up for the Timberwolves though, as Umatilla’s do-it-all guard Aleesha Watson also signed with the program, which has Meyers excited to get started.
“What excites me is there are only two returners and (Driver) has been looking at girls around here which is nice because in the past there hasn’t been many from Hermiston or Pendleton,” Meyers said. “I’m excited to play with (Watson) because I know her. The two girls returning are really good and I’m excited, maybe we’ll build a bond to bring up more girls from local teams and make it bigger and better.”
What excites Meyers the most, though, is the opportunity to pursue a dream and remain close to home. Her younger sister, Regan, will be a senior at Hermiston starting in the fall and Hayden wants to be there every step of the way.
“I’d like to watch all of her senior nights because she got to see all of mine,” Meyers said, “so staying close to home was really important to me. We’re like best friends, so that was the big push to BMCC and not another community college.”
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.