Rebounding By Faith

Big things are on the Horizon for Hailey Estes


It’s February 28th, there is just one regular season and in the Duke Wells arena, Hailey Estes has been incredible on the floor tonight. Entering the game she needed just 21 points to become part of the 1000 point club for Henderson.
So far in the night, she has hit six 3-pointers, she passes it to teammate Pink Jones who and steps behind the three-point line, Jones passes it back to her, she shoots and hits her seventh three of the night. She finished the night with 23 points.

Being part of the 1000 point club is one on a list of accomplishments. She is third in rebounds, a record that will probably be broken in her senior year. She is also fifth in three-point shooting. It’s not bad for a kid from Conway, Arkansas. Hailey is used to these kinds of achievements, though, at Conway High School, where she played in three straight state championships, winning one in her sophomore year. She was also an All-state athlete in 2 sports, soccer and basketball. In her senior year, she hit a big shot against Little Rock Central to send her team to the state championship game.

Her team had previously been down as much as 19 points in the third quarter, in the fourth they were only down two points with time winding down. Conway advanced the ball down the court, Hailey got the ball and hit the three that would eventually give her team the lead and advance them to their third straight state championship game.
When asked what stood out about her the most, the answer was always the same: her hard work.
“ When she was playing soccer she would text me to open the gym so that she could come and get some shots in.” her high school coach Ashley Hutchcraft said.

Estes has won everywhere she has been, and considering basketball isn’t even her best sport that makes her accomplishments that much more impressive, and more special to her. “ I work hard, and I am very competitive.” She says. Her competitiveness is always on full display. In high school, she was teammates with three Division-1 athletes, 2 of which recently played in the SEC championship, Jordan Danberry at Mississippi State, Alexis Tolfree at the University of Arkansas, and Kianna Speight at Davidson. She also played with several others who would go on to play college basketball at lower levels.

She hasn’t just had to compete with her opponents but with her teammates as well, “ I wanted to prove that I was good enough to be on the same floor with them” she says. Working hard is something that has been instilled in her since she was a child. Her parents were both basketball players in high school. Her mother, Kathy Estes, won a state championship coincidentally in her sophomore year as well. Her dad, Mark, played baseball and basketball but never made it to the state championship. “ That’s something that we can share together, and also hold over her dad’s head,” Kathy says.

Another thing that was instilled in Hailey by her parents was faith. “ Her faith has completely shaped her as an athlete and a person,” Her mother says. Hailey wears a necklace that has a tiny mustard seed, that has a bible verse. She wears it so much that the chain frequently breaks. The person who showed her how to live through her faith with the most grace is her mother. Kathy has muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.

“ The doctors first thought I had ALS,” she said, “it was supposed to be fatal.” They went to every doctor they could, looking for a second opinion. Finally, in January of 2002, they got the news. “ When we found out that it wasn’t ALS, I was so relieved” she expressed “ with MD you can fight” and fight she has. On February 28th Kathy was in attendance to watch her daughter join the 1000 point club.
The next game Hailey was being awarded the ball for joining the illustrious club, Kathy was taking pictures and recording as she usually does when Hailey walked up to her and gave her the ball. It was a moment that both of them will always remember fondly. “She has been at every game,” Hailey recalls. “ During the summer when I was getting ready for my timed runs, my trainer would write my mom’s name on my wrists, because my mom can’t run. So I run for her”

Family is very important to her. Her brother, Hayden, is her biggest fan. Together he and their dad, Mark, keep all her stats. “I told her if she hits averages three three-pointers a game she may have a shot at the record,” Mark says.
One of her closest friends on the team is Karrington Whaley. They played on the same team in AAU but Whaley was on the younger team. They have been hiking together and have even taken trips to Branson together with their families.
When Hailey is done playing it might be friends and family who are affected the most. “ When Hailey Walks off the court for the last time I am going to lose it because I got to see it,” Kathy says.

With one season left Hailey has a pretty good chance to break the record for career rebounds and an outside shot at the three-pointer record. Whether she breaks those records or not has yet to be determined, but what has been determined is that she has an incredible support system, and along with them and her faith the possibilities are endless.