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Sports Hall is calling for Hiatt

On March 1 The Mount Airy News published an article on the latest inductees for the Greater Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2020 is the youngest ever with all four athletes competing in high school within the past 11 years. However, with all the accolades earned, it would be very hard to say any of them haven’t earned the honor.

This year’s induction program originally was scheduled for April 19 at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joining Tyler Hull, Kirsten Parries and Matus Kriska in this year’s class is a young woman known for her abilities in both basketball and running: Jordan Hiatt.

Jordan is now living and working in Georgia, so catching her for a chat can be difficult.

Jordan graduated from Mount Airy High School in 2012, a year behind her big sister, Taylor. The two were the leaders of the Lady Bears’ basketball team.

Taylor said this week, “When I first got the call from Jo about her getting inducted, I was so proud and shocked. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was even jealous. Getting inducted truly attests to all the hard work she put in over the years.”

Looking back on their days at MAHS, Taylor recalled of Jordan, “She was involved in high school in multiple clubs, spoke to everyone and made a name for herself, apart from the ‘Hiatt sisters,’ as so many people call us.”

Near the end of her senior year, her high school coach, Howard Mayo, pointed out that Jordan was more than just an athlete. She served on Mount Airy’s student council all four years, he noted. “She is a well-rounded kid.”

Jordan said she was in student government since the fourth grade. During her senior year she was vice president and was pleased that her good friend Maddie Gardner (now a TV news personality for WFMY-Channel 2) was class president.

She made the Career Technical Education Honor Society by the end of her junior year.

Jordan not only played basketball at an all-region level, she was an all-conference performer in cross country and track and qualified for state championships in both solo and relay events.

In November 2011, Jordan and her parents invited The News to MAHS for her announcement of which scholarship offer she had accepted for basketball.

Mom Bridgette ticked off the names of the many schools that offered a scholarship to her daughter: Eckerd, Elon, East Tennessee State, Georgia Southern, Nova Southeastern, UNC-Asheville and UNC-Pembroke.

Jordan picked Lenoir-Rhyne before the start of her senior season, and what a senior year it was.

Senior year

The excellence started before the basketball season.

Jordan finished second in the Northwest Conference (to fellow Class of 2020 inductee Kirsten Parries) in cross country. Then the teammates finished first and second again at the Midwest 1A Regionals.

At the State 1A Championship, Parries won gold and Hiatt finished 22nd — not bad for a runner some thought was only competing to get in shape for basketball.

Going into basketball, Jordan faced high expectations. As a junior, she led the Bears with 13.2 points and 81% foul shooting. She also led the team in assists (3.6) and steals (2.9) and was second in three-point shooting (36%).

Coach Mayo said even as a junior with her older sister as senior captain, Jordan often addressed the team before games and during timeouts.

“Having Jordan on the team means your best player is your hardest worker,” said Mayo. “She expects people to work hard because she does. It’s invaluable to have someone like that. … She understands what needs to be done out on the floor. She backs up that with her effort both in the game and in practice.”

Jordan upped her scoring average from 13 to 17 points per game, while also improving her assists, rebounds and steals.

In the Northwest Conference Tournament (when it was still a split 1A/2A event), Jordan was sensational in leading the Bears to wins over reigning state champion Bishop McGuinness and rival North Surry.

Jordan was named to the all-tournament team and all-conference team. She was named most outstanding player of the tournament and she beat out North’s Morgan Midkiff and East Surry’s Keri Fulp for player of the year.

Two months after the tournament, the Winston-Salem Journal announced its All-Northwest basketball team. The publication said Jordan and Midkiff made the team. Jordan took the top spot in voting by area coaches, and thus was given the 2012 Mary Garber Award.

“What I will always remember from Jordan was that she hated to lose,” Mayo said at the time of the announcement. “She really pushed other people to live up to that standard. On our team, while she was not the biggest girl as far as physical stature, she had a big heart, and that was never more evident in that she led the team with charges drawn with 15.”

Mayo said her pleasant demeanor can be misleading. “She is hard to intimidate. She is a very good competitor, and that’s one reason she has been so successful, and her teams have. She inspires her teammates to keep up and do the same thing.”

Hiatt developed into a leader who helped the Bears to at least 21 victories in each of her four seasons.

Track and field

With basketball over, and college waiting, Jordan could have coasted to graduation, but instead she chose to run track in the spring.

At the Northwest Conference Championship, Jordan took third place in the high jump and first place in the 800 meters seconds ahead of friend and all-state tennis star Davi Barbour. Parries took first place in the 1600 and 3200 meters. Alex Mayes took first place in the 400 meters.

With those four showing such great speed, imagine what kind of relay team they could make in the 4×800 meters?

The four took first place in a time of 10:05, then finished second at the Midwest Regionals with a similar time.

At the state championship, Jordan finished sixth in the state in the 400 meters, Barbour was fourth in the 800 meters, and Parries won gold in the 3200.

In the 4×800, Barbour set off with a blistering pace, then came Mayes giving it her all as it was her only event of the day. Jordan pushed hard through her leg and handed off to Parries.

In the final stretch, Parries made up ground and lunged ahead at the finish line to take gold.

The relay team was a whopping 23 seconds faster than the two previous races and set a state record for the event.

College

Jordan would continue that part-time job at Lenoir-Rhyne.

As a sophomore she helped on the track team. She came out at the Beynon Sports Catamount Classic and finished seventh in the high jump and helped the 4x400m relay team to a 10th place finish.

A week later at the South Atlantic Conference Championship, the 4×400 relay team cut 8 seconds off its time to take bronze in the conference. Individually she finished ninth in high jump and 12th in the 800 meters (with a time 4 seconds faster than the week before and 8 seconds faster than the week before that).

In her main sport, Jordan was named to the conference all-freshman basketball team in 2013. That didn’t mean it was an easy transition.

Asked what it was like moving to a college team, she said, “It was awesome, but of course I was also a little naïve to what it actually meant to be a collegiate student-athlete. Everyone on my team came from great high school programs and had seen success in their past.

“It was competitive, it was exciting, but it also came with hard times – adjusting to adversity, not having familiar people around me, and being a little bit outside of my comfort zone if I wasn’t playing the point guard position.

“In all, the adjustment didn’t take long in large part to my teammates and the coaching staff. I knew that at Lenoir-Rhyne, I was at home and it was such a great feeling to know that on my hard days, I had people there to pick me up.”

The Bears team earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, and in 2014 Lenoir-Rhyne hosted the NCAA Regionals with a #1 seed. It was also in 2014 when Lenoir-Rhyne was crowned South Atlantic Conference Co-Champions.

When asked about a most memorable game, she mentioned that sophomore year.

“When we played Clayton State on their home court,” she said.

“They were ranked #7 in the country at the time and it was the game right before Christmas break. It was also the same day that our football team was playing for the DII National Championship – there was a lot of excitement and motivation built around that day. We ended up beating Clayton State and going on to win our conference that same year. The season was full of highs and lows, but being able to work with that group every single day and come out on top was such an accomplishing feeling.”

Jordan was chosen to be a team captain for her junior and senior years.

As a senior, Jordan was injured and only started 12 of 27 games. Her shooting and playmaking suffered; she shot just below 30% from long range and averaged less than two assists a game. Compare that to her junior year when she shot a respectable 32.5% from deep, handed out 3.1 assists per game, and had 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals.

Still, she did have a few good games along the way.

Jordan said she was named conference player of the week twice and once was named national player of the week.

She graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in the spring of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and a minor in business.

Jordan was a part of the Dean’s List from 2014-2016 and was on the South Atlantic Conference Commissioners Honor Roll for all four years.

She was a member of the Arktos Chapter of Mortar Board Senior Honor Society where she served at vice president, a member of Chi Alpha Sigma Student-Athlete Honor Society where she served as secretary, and was a women’s basketball representative for the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

After college

“I went in to college wanting to be an elementary education teacher and came out wanting to be a college coach,” Jordan said.

From 2017-19 she studied through Clemson University and completed a master’s degree in athletic leadership in 2019.

At the same time, Jordan was pulling double duty. She spent one year as a graduate assistant for the University of Indianapolis women’s basketball team. While there she was responsible for many aspects of the program, including logistics, academics, camps, and recruiting.

Then she spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Presbyterian College, the Blue Hose.

Jordan completed the “So You Want To Be A Coach” program offered through the WBCA and attended the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis one season.

“I did what I wanted to do and made the most amazing relationships along the way. It was humbling to go from player to coach so quickly, but I am thankful for the transition and the growth I made during that time, not only as a coach but as a person. It was such a joy to be on the other side and watch young women achieve their goals on and off of the basketball court, even after they graduate.”

In May of this year she accepted a job as coordinator of enrollment management at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

“Through high school, college and even now, she’s remained humble and grateful for every opportunity life has given her and every award she’s received,” said Taylor Hiatt. “She makes me so proud to be her sister. It’ll be an honor to watch her name be placed in the HOF. That’s something our family will remember forever.”

When asked about her family, Jordan said, “I don’t even think I can begin to summarize what all their support did for me during my playing days into coaching. No matter the distance, I could always count on my parents to either be at games or watching online. They were always there to give my advice, pick my head up, or celebrate after a win. Their support meant the world to me, especially when I decided to pack up and move to Indiana one week after college graduation.

“Knowing that they had my back, knowing that they supported me and the dream that I was chasing, it actually still to this day makes me tear up. There were a lot of sacrifices made throughout the years, and I don’t think I ever gave myself time to realize that until I moved a plane ride away.”

Jordan said she could go on and on about the relationships formed through her time in sports, both as a player and as a coach.

“My first boss, Kristin Wodrich, is someone I still lean on to this day,” she said. “She’s always quick to answer a phone call or text, even with a new baby. She’s a friend, a sister in Christ, and an all-around genuine person. My best friends come from my playing and my coaching days.

“Leaving coaching was not easy, but I am very thankful of the relationships that I got to take away from it.”

In fact, she said coaching is how she met her boyfriend while at Presbyterian College. Sumner is now an assistant coach for the football team at Mercer University, and she works for the university.

As for her fellow inductees in the Class of 2020, she said, “What a great group of people to be with in this incoming class. I am absolutely honored to stand beside each one of them, knowing what all they have accomplished in their past and now. I can’t comprehend how I compare to them, but I am very thankful to be here with them.”

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