The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team honored its three seniors at their March 6 game against Central Michigan University: Taylor Bird, Chelsea Hite and India Hairston. Before the game, I was able to get a few minutes of their time as well as their parting thoughts about their years at EMU.
Hairston said the two biggest things she takes out of her time at EMU is the need to work hard and believe in yourself. Her work ethic has shown this year, averaging 8.16 points per game in 125 career games as an Eagle.
Hairston said her most notable experience is winning the 2012 Mid-American Conference championship.
“That was the key highlight of my four years … That was the highlight of my college career,” she said.
“We had been to the MAC tournament all four years that I’d been here, but we’ve never been to the championship.”
In winning the MAC title, the ladies earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. Hite and Bird both agreed this was their top moment as Eagles.
“You can’t beat that,” Hite said. “That’s the stuff you tell your family; we have a ring for the rest of our lives. That’s the greatest thing ever.”
Bird recalled the moment the team won the MAC title.
“Paige [Redditt] hitting that final shot for us to go to the NCAA [tournament]—that was an amazing moment and we have the ring to show our kids,” Bird said.
Off the court, all three seniors agreed that academics were a huge part of their time at EMU.
“Make sure you keep up with the academic part as well as the basketball part,” Hairston said. “The basketball part will come, but if you don’t have the academic part with it, it’s pointless.”
Hite has carried the highest GPA on the team and is very happy with that accomplishment.
“We have a banquet every year and we get to invite a teacher,” Hite said. “I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment being a student-athlete.”
Bird had two professors who stood out to her at EMU.
“I really liked professor Shawn Sinawe and Anthony Kurek,” Bird said. “They’re just good people.”
Hite mentioned two teachers who have been her favorites in her time at Eastern.
“Megan Rickard, she’s a health teacher, and [Margo] Dichtelmiller, she’s my early childhood development teacher,” Hite said. “The education program is the best around and they really love teaching. They like helping their students.”
Hairston said her favorite professor throughout her four years at EMU was Heather Neff, who teaches in the English department and is popular among students and athletes alike.
“I wish I could have her every year,” Hairston said.
In addition to Neff, Hairston was quick to recognize all the professors at Eastern.
“They’re very caring,” she said. “They know how it is to be a student-athlete. They’re very reasonable with [deadlines] on papers and things like that.”
Bird echoed her teammate’s sentiments with some advice that applies to everyone, not just student-athletes.
“As long as you communicate with your teachers, they’ll work with you,” Bird said.
The seniors had some more advice too, this time about managing your time.
“That’s probably the biggest thing in being an athlete in any school,” Hite said. “You just need to manage your time. It’s hard, especially when you’re traveling, being on top of things.
Communication, also, communication and time management … that’s my advice.”
Bird also mentioned getting involved is a good thing to do in college.
“Staying involved and staying on top of your work, staying social and getting to know different people,” Bird said.
Hite had good things to say about EMU as a whole.
“Eastern is just a good university all around,” Hite said. “They give back to the community, in athletics especially. I feel like the community as a whole is not too big, it’s not too small, it’s a really good size. You get to know your professors. It’s a really good environment, and if you don’t want to go to a big school, it’s a really good place to go to. The teachers really care about you.”
The team was also a big factor for both Bird and Hite.
“I’ll miss being a part of the team,” Hite said. “They’re my family, they’ve been my family for the past four years. I’m going to miss having that. You always have 13 other opinions, which can be good or bad. You have 13 voices behind you. I’m gonna miss that, definitely. Having my sisters with me.”
“They’re all I know, really,” Bird said.
Bird was direct about the number one thing she is taking away from her time at EMU, and it has nothing to do with being on the court.
“Getting my degree,” Bird said.