CASHMERE, Wash. — As the Wenatchee River winds through Chelan County, a thin blanket of snow covers the nearby town of Cashmere. For decades, Aplets and Cotlets has been the beacon for this agricultural community.
But now a young prospect has risen.
In a town with no stop lights, a 17-year-old girl is putting this community on the national stage. Brent Darnell, head coach for Cashmere High School said, "I’ve never seen any athlete, boy or girl, work as hard as she does, it’s a lifestyle for her, there is nothing she can’t do on the basketball court.”
Hailey Van Lith is a junior from Cashmere High School. She's one of the top-ranked recruits in the nation with just about every major college basketball coach in the country knocking on her door, including the University of Connecticut, Notre Dame, and Baylor.
“What motivates me is to be better than I was yesterday and once you taste success, you can’t get enough of it and you never want to settle,” she said.
On this night, in front of a packed house, Hailey is trying to help her team win a conference title and she’s also trying to score her 2,000th career point. They travel from all over to watch her play. Young, old, even national media are here to catch a glimpse. "I love big crowds and I live to play in front of big crowds, in games, I just feed off of it,” Hailey said.
Mom and dad said Hailey has been overachieving since birth. "Hailey was a quick easy delivery, I always say she came out running, she was ready to go from the start,” says her mom Jessica.
In the fourth grade, Hailey fell in love with hoops and decided to dedicate her life to the game.
“It’s an everyday commitment, you can’t just decide this day you want to be good and not the next day," she said. “It’s sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice because if you don’t, someone else will.”
Basketball runs in the family. Her dad Corey played for the University of Puget Sound from 1994 to 1997 and now he's her coach. The two work hard 6-7 nights a week in the gym doing whatever it takes to get better.
"My dad has been my trainer my whole life, he’s very intense with me, but I go home, and my mom is the mediator and she keeps everything calm,” Hailey said. “There are nights, she’s tired and I’m tired, there are good days and there are bad days, it’s life,” said dad Corey.
Jessica Van Lith says Corey and Hailey have made an unbreakable bond built around faith, family, and fundamentals. “You are going to make me cry, they are cut from the same cloth, two very driven people, they are both blessed.”
“They are a perfect match for one another, they are a great father-daughter pair that makes each other better,” said Coach Darnell.
From the court to classroom, her passion to be great never ceases. She's a member of the honor roll and this past summer, Hailey played for Team USA helping them win a gold medal. “To win a gold medal, there are no words for it, I was like, floating,” Hailey said.
Back home in Cashmere, it’s a double victory for Hailey and the Bulldogs. Cashmere won their 6th straight league title and Hailey hit a big shot which puts her over two-thousand career points.
“You get what you put into it and if you work hard it will work hard for you and take you anywhere you want to go,” Hailey said.
Hailey said she has grown up idolizing Seattle Storm stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart and she also loves to model her game after Dianna Taurasi. She wants it all and dreams of winning a state title, playing in college, the WNBA and playing in the Olympics for Team USA.