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Hayes’ college jersey retired

JERSEY RETIREMENT CEREMONY – Former Lady Viking and Murray State Lady Racer, Ashley Hayes (center) had her Murray State #23 basketball jersey number is retired that now hangs from the rafters of the Murray State CFSB Center as her. The unveiling ceremony was held on Saturday, December 30. Joining Hayes during the big moment are her mother, Glenda Hayes (left) and Lady Racer coach, Robert Cross.
photo courtesy JOHN WRIGHT, MURRAY LEDGER & TIMES

by Danny Wade

A Humboldt superstar basketball player reached another milestone in her successful basketball career. Former Humboldt Lady Viking and Murray State Lady Racer, Ashley Hayes, had her Murray State #23 basketball jersey number retired. Her jersey will now be on display for all to see.

An unveiling jersey retirement ceremony was held on Saturday, December 30 in the Murray State CFSB Center, home of the Racers. Hayes, along with her mom, Glenda Hayes, and numerous family members attended the historic event.

“It’s in the rafters,” Hayes enthusiastically exclaimed. “When I first went to Murray, I looked up and saw (Sheila Smith) 24. I wondered what she did.”

Hayes did her research and found out who Smith was and learned about her successful career. At the time, Hayes said she wondered what it took to have your number hanging from the rafters.

“I did not plan this or dream about it,” Hayes said of having her number retired. “Over the course, it wasn’t easy—training, camps, sticking with it, getting up the next day and doing it all over again.”

Instead, Hayes had the mindset that things will happen naturally and focus on the journey. And she has had quite the journey.

Hayes said she found out about her jersey being retired from her former Murray State teammate and close friend, Amber Guffey. Guffey told her that Murray’s athletic director had set up a Zoom call last October. Hayes said she was curious and wondered why the call was set up. Hayes said at that time she thought it might be to retire her number and she was right.
They discussed a date to hold the ceremony. Hayes is the girls basketball coach at Milan Middle School and had to check her schedule. She selected December 30, which would be over the Christmas break. She had plans to spend the entire weekend in Murray as a reunion with coaches, teammates and current basketball players.

“That day (number retirement), it was like a reunion,” Hayes recalled. “I got so many messages. Tears were flowing. I always said it is not about player, but about the person.”

But after the ceremony Hayes came back home to Humboldt, her hometown around 2 a.m. She said her adrenaline was still pumping with excitement.

Hayes said she would have loved for some of her Boykin family relatives be able to attend the unveiling ceremony, but they were unable to attend. Hayes was inducted into the Gibson County Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 and joined her Boykin relatives, Dan Boykin (2010), Thomas Boykin (2015) and Arthur Boykin (2022).

“When I think back to the Hall of Fames, my hope is to make an impact on people’s lives,” Hayes noted. “I hope they can be inspired and dream.”

Hayes wants to share some advice with the young athletes, “You don’t have to be perfect,” and her motto, “Doing the right things, at the right time, most of the time.”

One inspiring quote Hayes takes to heart is from FM Alexander, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

Hayes wants to share these positive messages with her players and all the youth athletes in hope they too will keep on the straight and narrow, and to fulfill their dreams in what ever they do.

“I put my shoes and jersey on just like every other athlete,” Hayes explained. “I left it on the floor, but it’s not about me, it’s about the team.”

Hayes has an impressive resume when it comes to women’s basketball. She was named Miss Humboldt High basketball four years (2001-05). Hayes was District MVP, All-Region and Second Team All-West Tenn., scoring 1,762 pts. At Murray State (2005-09), she was twice Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year (2008-09) and MSU Female Athlete of the Year, scoring 2,007 career points. A Murray Hall of Fame inductee in 2016 and Gibson County Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 2019, Hayes played briefly in the WNBA and two years in Germany’s premier women’s basketball league.

Now, Hayes’ Murray State jersey number has been retired and hangs from the rafters for everyone to see. This is one of the highest honors an athlete can hope for. Congratulations Ashley, well deserved.

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