Submitted photo

Hartshorne’s Ashton Hackler, seated middle, signed to play basketball with a Northeastern State University.

Surrounded by her family on the floor where she’ll spend her final high school basketball season, Ashton Hackler committed to the next chapter of her life.

During a signing ceremony held at the Hartshorne Event Center, Hackler signed to play college basketball for Northeastern State University. She said it was a momentous occasion that got a little familiar toward the end.

“It was really exciting. I had just decided the night before that I was going to officially sign that day,” Hackler said. “We all got up, we all decided what to wear together — how we’re going to match and everything. We got to the dome…we signed and took a lot of pictures. And then we had practice.”

“It was kind of crazy to me,” Hackler said. “Especially right as we walk into their event center, my picture is on their (video) board with Hartshorne and my number and everything.”

Hackler said they also brought her into the locker room and showed off what her locker will look like next season, and she's already began to bond with her future coaches and teammates.

The final selling points were being close to home and having a quality medical studies program. Hackler said she wants to explore a career in the medical field, in either dermatology or becoming a family physician.

Hackler has been playing the game since her elementary days, and said her favorite thing about the game is being on a team and making lifelong friends. That’s part of the reason she said her time as a Lady Miner has been so remarkable.

“I’ve been at Hartshorne ever since I was in sixth grade, and I’ve created family with the girls that I’ve played with,” Hackler said. “And I love the town. They’re always so supportive.”

Speaking of support, Hackler said there’s one dynamic duo that has been there for her every step of the way.

“My parents were always pushing me to be the best I can be…I made a decision at a young age that ‘okay, this is what I want to do,’” Hackler said. “They paid for a lot of training throughout the years, and my dad has given me a lot of training.”

The bond between she and her dad is especially close, given that he’s with her every game night. Not because he’s in the stands, but because he sits on the Hartshorne bench as the assistant coach.

“He’s played a huge role in the player I am today,” Hackler said. “It took us a while, (but) we’ve got it down now. He does a pretty good job of separating coach from dad. But now, when we get home and sitting at the dinner table, sometimes I’ll bring up basketball. We both just like basketball.”

After she completes her final season this year, Hackler said she’ll have fond memories to look back on, but knows she still has one more year of memories to make.

"If we learned anything from last year, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted," she said. "You can’t just expect something, so we’re just really trying to enjoy it while we can.”

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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