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Dance Hall: Clark College ‘s Hayden Hall uses dancing to sharpen basketball skills

Sophomre has been taking lessons since the second grade

The Columbian
Published: March 29, 2015, 12:00am

Standing at 6-feet 7-inches, most would pinpoint him as a basketball player.

Although true, Clark College sophomore Hayden Hall’s first love was for another form of athleticism — Dancing, of all types.

Hall’s favorite form of dance is hip hop, but he has been involved in ballet, tap, jazz, salsa, contemporary and ballroom. He started taking classes in the second grade, but Hall says he’s been dancing ever since he was a tot.

“It’s really the music that I love. It’s almost always upbeat,” Hall said of hip hop. “There really aren’t any rules to it, you don’t have to wear a certain outfit, just show up in your street clothes. Plus there’s always a new hip hop move that sweeps the nation every three to four months.”

The basketball side of Hall has seen his fair share of winning. This year he helped bring a men’s basketball championship back to Clark as he averaged nine points per game coming off the bench throughout the Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament in Kennewick. During his basketball career with the Penguins he also was a part of clinching back-to-back conference championship titles.

“Above all else, Hayden was and is a leader,” Clark head coach Alex Kirk said. “In the two years he’s been in our program, he’s won almost every sprint the team has run. He shows up everyday ready to lead by example, but when that isn’t enough, he’s not afraid to speak up either.”

But it wasn’t always easy. Throughout his childhood Hall had experienced his fair share of bullying and being made fun of.

“Dance was not the popular choice,” he said. “But I believed in myself and realized that I wasn’t doing it for others, but I was dancing for myself. Dance really helped me get past all the peer-pressure that you face in school today.”

Even with naysayers, Hall always had a supportive family.

Whether it be his parents signing him up for another dance class, driving him and his brother to all the basketball games, taking him to modeling opportunities, or just being there during talent shows, he has realized how fortunate he is to have such invested parents.

“He came out dancing” his mother, Laura Hall said. “We were just there to support our sons, and Hayden ended up taking to dancing. He had his own thing going, and it became his life. We realized how good he really was after a lip-syncing and dance routine to the song ‘I’m A Believer’ (by Smash Mouth) he did during a Hockinson Fire Department Talent Show. He won the whole thing at three years old, and that’s how it all started for him.”

For Hall, the two sports go hand-in-hand.

Dancing has helped with his flexibility, and he found that when most players would have to go out with an injury he has been limber enough to push through the initial pain.

Basketball on the other hand has helped with his endurance and he can dance longer without as many breaks due to his physical conditioning for the court.

During every pre-game warmup you can find Hall preparing by participating in the shoot-around but adding his own twist to it. Whether it be singing along with a song or using his dance skills in-between shots, he always seems to be having a good time.

“I love Hayden’s dancing during warmups because it helps him relax and ultimately play well,” Kirk said. “For some it’s quiet time before tip-off. For others it’s jumping up and down. For Hayden it’s busting a move.”

Hall’s father can really tell when his son starts to not play as well on the court.

“He gets this serious look on his face, and that’s when you know he needs to just get back to having fun,” Whit Hall said. “I like to remind him to remember to smile, because his is so contagious. He leads out on the court with his energy, and it seems like he finds that energy when he is having fun.”

Back in Hall’s high school career he transferred during his senior year from Hockinson High School to Jefferson High School in Portland.

During the 2012-13 basketball season, Jefferson went 24-4 and finished the year as the Class 5A Oregon state champions. In the championship game, Hall had 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the 59-53 win over Churchill of Eugene.

Being the new student in the inner-city school was a tough transition for Hall. After Hall’s father lost his job, the family decided to move to Portland. He found himself trying to fit in with his new classmates and teammates.

His basketball appearance held him back from being a part of the Jefferson dance team at first, as his father recounted.

“The dance instructor only saw my son’s appearance and discounted him as a dancer right away,” Whit Hall said. “But a few weeks later word was getting around that the new kid ‘Hayden Hall’ was a really good dancer. The instructor called for this new student to come to his class, not realizing that he had already turned my son away the first time they met. From that point on, Hayden was part of the dance team when he wasn’t busy with basketball.”

Between Hall and his older brother, Josh, the two started to rack up many trophies, awards, and ribbons for their athletic abilities.

The family has a “Hall of Fame” in their household that holds all of the accomplishments of the brothers.

“There are about three photos up there of dance competitions or events,” Hall said. “Mostly basketball accolades, but the dancing stuff was just as important.”

Hall realizes that basketball through college for him is used as a tool, to get to the next stages in life with an education. Hall is weighing his options for where to study after Clark. He hopes to continue playing basketball, but he’ll never stop dancing.

“Basketball is the means of how I’m going to get where I want to be in life,” he said. “But as far as dancing goes, that’s where I get my happiness.”