MOCKSVILLE — The alarms clocks go off early in the Hatfield household, usually around 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Less than an hour later, Taylor Hatfield is turning the ignition on the family’s 2001 Suburban and he, his twin brother, Austin, and younger sister Haleigh are on their way to Davie County High School, a 50-minute drive from their Denton home in southern Davidson County.
The three siblings all play on the varsity basketball teams at Davie. Haleigh, a sophomore, is the leading scorer for the Davie girls, averaging 19.3 points through eight games. Taylor and Austin, both juniors, are the starting guards for the Davie boys, who won their first eight games before taking a one-point loss in Saturday’s game at Charlotte Olympic.
But the family affair with the game of basketball doesn’t end there. Their mother, Kerisa, is an assistant coach on the girls teams.
Taylor and Austin Hatfield played at South Davidson High School last season, leading their team to a 24-6 record. But they wanted more exposure and better competition than the Yadkin Valley 1-A Conference was able to provide.
“Last year we had a great season at South (Davidson) but there really wasn’t a lot of competition,” Austin said. “We set a lot of records but we felt like we could do more. We wanted to play against better competition, where we could be seen by more college coaches.”
Some of the twins’ best competition comes in practice, where another set of twins, 6-7 Caleb and Cody Martin, are the acknowledged stars of the team. Caleb Martin is the nation’s No. 33-ranked junior and Cody is No. 34, according to ESPN, and have committed to N.C. State.
“Going against players the caliber of Caleb and Cody every day in practice has really made us better players,” said Austin Hatfield.
Haleigh Hatfield (6-foot) grew up playing against her older and stronger brothers. That’s one of the reasons her game is already at such a high level. She possesses an accurate 3-point shot, can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket and is a demon on defense. But not all of her memories of battling against Taylor and Austin are fond ones.
“I would be bruised and bloodied,” she said. “And I would go storming into the house screaming and crying.”
Did she get any sympathy from her mom? None at all. “I told the boys specifically not to go easy on her,” Kerisa Hatfield said.
“We didn’t take it easy on her, which I think helped and was good for her,” Austin said. “We’d steal the ball from her, block her shots. It was teaching her how to get her shot off against bigger people, which she is going to have to do eventually.”
So that raises the question, who is the best player in the Hatfield family?
Austin: “I would say me.”
Taylor: “It’s definitely me.”
Haleigh Hatfield’s reason for enrolling at Davie was the same as her brothers — better competition and more exposure. There’s also the opportunity to improve her overall game.
“If Haleigh went to South Davidson she would have to play center,” Kerisa Hatfield said. “And right now she is being recruited as a wing player. She knew her weaknesses were outside shooting, ballhandling and foot speed, and she can work on those here.”
Kerisa, the youngest of 11 children and the mother of seven, knows all about trying to develop as a player. At 5-10 she played center on her high-school team in Idaho. When she enrolled at North Idaho College, her coach wanted her to handle the ball more and be a wing player.
“I struggled in that regard,” she said. “I know high-school teams need to use what they have to win games, but I needed to spend my offseason developing all those other skills I needed.”
Coaching her own child has been a positive experience for both mother and daughter.
“I know it sounds silly but when I am coaching her I don’t look at her as my daughter,” she said. “I treat her not any harder or not any easier than anybody else. I treat her like she is just one of the other girls. Maybe that’s because I feel like they are all my daughters.”
Haleigh played at Forsyth Country Day as a freshman. Her mother drove her to school every day and it became a bonding experience for the two.
“I love my mom,” Haleigh said. “At first, I didn’t like it when she coached me. But I’ve gotten used to it. She gives good advice.”
Haleigh, 15, uses the 50-minute trip to Mocksville each morning to catch up on her studying. As the driver, Taylor gets to crank up the music as loud as he wants, while Austin simply chills.
“I am not much of a morning person,” Austin said.
Haleigh is looking forward to this June, when she will be old enough to get her driver’s license. She says that when 2012-13 school year starts, Taylor’s days as the family’s designated driver will be over.
“After I get my license, I will definitely be the one driving,” she said.
What about brother Austin? Does he ever take the wheel? Not a chance.
“You don’t want to see Austin drive,” she said.