Class of 2012
Heather Haney set a goal when she was at Athens Middle School and that goal was to one day play college basketball. She knew however, that to achieve such a lofty goal, a lot of hard work, sacrifice and determination was to be required. Haney adhered to those requirements and earned a college basketball scholarship while firmly establishing herself as one of the top players in the history of the Athens High School girl’s basketball program.
“My parents entered my brother (Will) and me into all sports, “said Haney. “I participated in basketball, softball, volleyball, and soccer but basketball was the sport I fell in love in with and my goal was to play it in college.”
Haney would sign a basketball scholarship with Troy State University (now called Troy University) but only after leading Athens High School to back to back runner-up finishes (1992, 93) in the 5A State Girls Basketball Tournament. She was a four-year letterman for AHS and the program was an impressive 104-23 during Haney’s career. Haney set the girl’s school record for most points scored in a career (1400). She was named the state Class 5A Player of the Year, the Decatur Daily Player of the Year and a member of the Alabama Sports Writers Super 5 Team.
“Heather possessed a drive you don’t normally see in players,” said her high school coach Randy White, a 2008 Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “Players like Heather don’t come around a lot. You could see the determination in her all the way back to her middle school days. She was very determined, competitive and played hard. No one out worked Heather. She led by example and others followed. Like all great players, Heather possessed the ability to make her teammates better.”
One of her teammates in high school was Brandy (Fleming) Davis who started alongside Haney for three years in the AHS program. “Heather and I started playing sports together when we were seven or eight years old. Her work ethic was off the charts. She was the most determined teammate I ever had. I played the point guard and Heather played the shooting guard spot. We developed the type of chemistry where I always knew where Heather would be on the court,” said Davis.
In addition to being named the Class 5A Player of the Year, Haney was twice named All-State, All-Area and to the All-Tournament team in the state finals. Haney says, modestly, “While the accolades were nice, I was never caught up in individual awards and numbers.” I never played basketball for numbers or individual records,” said Haney. “I just loved the sport. When on the court there was nowhere else I wanted to be. I gave 110% because when the game was over I wanted to know I did my best. Sometimes you might even catch me with a smile on my face. That was just my way of showing I loved playing the game of basketball. I was very fortunate to play alongside some great teammates in high school. Because we were so well coached and played so well together we had a lot of success as a team.”
While Haney was leading Athens High to new heights in the program’s history, college recruiters begin to notice the gritty and talented guard. Troy University would be the school that would eventually land the shooting guard with the $300 shot. “That is what I called my shot,” laughs Haney. “That is what it cost my parents to send me to David Lipscomb’s weekend-long shooting camp one summer. I took the drills they provided at camp and I worked and worked on developing my shot.” When asked why she chose Troy over the other schools, Haney said “Troy reminded me a lot of my hometown. When I visited Troy everything just felt right and it’s a decision I haven’t regretted.”
Haney’s team and individual success would continue at Troy as she would become a four-year starter for the NCAA Division I school. She helped guide the Lady Trojans to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament as they played the University of Virginia. “Playing in the NCAA tournament as my last basketball game was a nice ending to a long and fun career. It was the icing on the cake,” said Haney. “We played Virginia tough the first half. After halftime Virginia came out ready to play, plus they got a few home court advantage calls. Either way, it was a great experience to play in the NCAA Tournament and be considered one of the best 64 teams around.” said Haney.
Haney finished her career at Troy ranked among the career leaders in points (6th), 3 point field goals made (4th), field goals made (8th) and free throws made (6th). A solid defender, Haney would finish her career at Troy in 1997 as the school’s all-time leader in steals with 210.
Jerry Hester, who coached Haney at Troy, says Haney was a player who left everything on the floor. “Heather is one of my favorite players. She came from a great family and we were fortunate to have her play in our program. Heather was a peak conditioned athlete and she contributed greatly to the success we had. She will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Hester.
It was Haney’s passion for the sport, worth ethic and humbleness that impressed her coaches and teammates alike. “My two daughters were growing up while I was coaching Heather,” said White. “I couldn’t think of a better person for them to emulate than Heather Haney and I think they tried to. Even today, there isn’t a better role model than Heather.”
As far as being inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame, Haney says she is humbled by the honor. ”I am beyond words in describing what this honor feels like. I feel blessed to be included in such an impressive group of coaches and athletes,” said Haney.