A Home away from Home

Teaneck, NJ - It is roughly 10,500 miles from her home in Australia to Massachusetts. For Sharn Hayward that is just fine. The native of Penguin (a town of just under 7000 residents), Tasmania in Australia found a home away from home in Easton, Massachusetts.

Hayward is a junior guard at Stonehill College. The 5’6" guard has been coming on of late. Hayward received Northeast Conference Player of the Week honors the week of January 17. Hayward caught attention, especially from ESPN’s Sports Center and Fox 25 Boston, with her 33 points in Stonehill’s win over Wagner. She buried 11 three pointers in that contest. For the week she shot 74% from the field including 71% (15 of 21) from long distance.

A few days later Stonehill was defeated 60-51 at FDU, Post game the question begged asking, how does one go from ‘Down Under’ to New England?

"I was being recruited and there were restrictions due to Covid," she said. "I had films sent to Stonehill and was invited for a visit. I immediately fell in love with the place."

Coming from a small town, Stonehill with an enrollment of 2,500 was a natural.

Stonehill coach Trisha Brown recalls the recruiting a case of good fortune, one thing leading to another. "An assistant from Columbia was recruiting in Australia and knew one of our assistants," Brown recalled. "The Columbia assistant wasn’t recruiting Hayward but recommended her as someone we should look at." Brown took the tip and ran with it. In retrospect it’s all worked out.

Hayward averages 9.3 points per game. Her norm in NEC play is 14.7 highlighted by a 24.5 showing for two games the week she won the NEC Player of the Week honors. On this night FDU was ready. They shadowed and denied Hayward the ball as much as possible, forcing her into a 10 point night. She went 1 of 8 from the field. Hayward’s lone field goal was a three pointer. "I told her," Brown said, "the way she’s been shooting the ball lately she will be the focus of scouting reports and see a lot of defensive attention."

In conference play, Stonehill is 2-4 in following Sunday’s loss to Merrimack. Brown realizes there is balance in the NEC and games are often decided by, "who comes to play." The coach realizes Hayward will be an integral part of the picture moving forward.

Hayward fell in love with Stonehill. The feeling is mutual given the player and person she is. Despite a tough outing at FDU, she was cordial and engaging. "She comes from a great family," Brown said. "Her parents and grandparents were here (at FDU) tonight. They are wonderful people." And genuinely thrilled and proud to make the long journey to see her play.