Red Devil Abby Hester begins final season at Vina
In athletics at a small school like Vina High, senior leadership is at a premium. A program might lose only one or two to graduation, but that impact can be more deeply felt. Last year the Lady Red Devil basketball squad graduated just one, Mary Morgan Clingan. The 2017-2018 squad will again lose one in May – this year, point guard Abby Hester.
“When she is on the court, she wants one thing, and that is for the team to win,” said Vina Coach Richie Hester. “Abby had just as soon win the game with an assist as score the winning basket herself … (She) has grown into a leader on the court – it is just like having a coach on the floor, the way she can read defenses and offenses.”
The Red Devil coach is uniquely positioned to evaluate the standout point guard – being her father as well as her coach.
“On the court, I treat Abby like the rest of the team. She wants no favoritism,” Hester said. “Off the court, Abby puts God first and family next. We have learned to have fun on and off the court.
“Abby is very special as a student and as a ballplayer, but most of all she is very special to me as my daughter.”
Abby Hester reflected on her upcoming final season as a Lady Red Devil and shared her thoughts:
What are your feelings as you head into your senior year of basketball at Vina?
“I am super anxious but also a little sad knowing that it’s my last year of high school. I’m ready though.”
What are your hopes or expectations for yourself this season? What are your hopes for the team?
“I’m just going to give it all I’ve got and make every game count! My hopes for the team are to go all the way (of course, who doesn’t want that?), but we’ve also set a goal of at least 30 wins.”
What has summer been like as far as basketball, preparing for your final high school season?
“Bittersweet, most definitely. I’m sure my team got tired of me saying ‘Last time I’m gonna play on this gym floor,’ as we went to all the different schools. But it’s been fun. I was involved in two team camps, and since our games stopped, I would say I’ve had a weekly routine.”
Are you aiming to play college ball? Where would you like to play if offered?
“I would love to, for sure! I’ve been in contact with a few, nothing final though. It would be an honor to be offered to play at any college, but if I had to pick, I would go with whatever’s closer to home.”
What do you think it is going to take to be successful this season?
“Love for the game and lots of hard work!”
What do you love about basketball at Vina?
“This is the sport I’ve been playing since I was 3. I love everything about it. Vina is just so special to me because it’s home.”
What is it like to have a dad who is also your coach?
“I actually get asked this more times than you would believe. It’s definitely nonstop talk about ball at my house, and anyone who knows my dad knows this to be true. It’s fun, challenging and nerve-wracking all at the same time. I wouldn’t trade it though.”
What are your career goals?
“As of right now, I plan on going into the medical field.”
Off the court, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
“What free time? Apart from playing basketball and softball, I really love to travel. Going to Braves games has gotten to be a family favorite at my house.”
On the field, Abby made All-State Softball for the second year straight. She had a .626 on base percentage and .481 batting average last season and had 57 stolen bases for the season, giving her 267 stolen base for her career, according to Hester – who coachers he in softball as well as basketball.
“Abby has made the AHSAA Softball Record Book individually five times and has helped her team make it 11 times in her career,” he said.
Abby Hester was second team All-State Basketball for 2017, one of only three girls in Franklin County this season to earn an All-State nod. She led Alabama in assists with 258 and was one of the leaders in the state in steals with 176 and scoring with 561 points. Individually, she has made the AHSAA record book nine times and has helped the Vina team make it seven times in basketball in her career.
In 2017 Vina varsity girls Basketball won 22 games – the most in 23 years, Coach Hester said. “The varsity girls have just recently come off a great summer season, winning 20 games,” he said. “Vina should be a threat next season, with a little luck, to go very deep in the playoffs.”