GSW formally welcomes new head women’s basketball coach Hana Haden

Published 7:13 pm Monday, May 1, 2023

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AMERICUS- On Monday afternoon, May 1, the Georgia Southwestern State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics formally and officially introduced Hana Haden as its new GSW women’s head basketball coach at the hospitality center inside the Storm Dome.

Haden is succeeding former GSW head coach Justin Payne, who led the Lady Hurricanes to the school’s first ever Peach Belt Conference Championship and who departed to take the women’s head coaching job at Nichols State University (LA).

Haden comes to GSW from Moberly Area Community College in Moberly, MO, where she led the women’s basketball program for five seasons. During her tenure at MACC, Haden accumulated an overall record of 118-36 and a Region 16 record of 47-15. The Lady Greyhounds competed in the Region 16 Tournament Championship game in every season under her tutelage. This past year, MACC finished with a record of 29-4 and advanced to the second round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Tournament before losing to #1 ranked South Georgia Technical College by the score of 54-49.

“I’m humbled, honored, excited and grateful to embark on this journey to continue to elevate GSW women’s basketball,” Haden told the crowd assembled. “I want to commend the leadership here for their vision and investment in athletics and student athletes. I also want to recognize former Lady Canes coach Justin Payne, a good friend of mine, on everything he poured into this program, the foundation that he laid and the new heights that he took this program to. I’m blessed to be the person in position to continue to build on that success. You don’t get opportunities like this on your own, so I’ve been very fortunate to have a tremendous support system, some incredible colleagues and mentors.”

Coach Haden went on to thank the members of her family, as well as those people at her previous coaching stops that helped guide her into the position that she is now. She also thanked her college coaches for helping her get to where she is today and admitted that as a player, she was not the easiest to coach, being that she was hard headed at times. She also mentioned that she wouldn’t be there today without the many amazing young women that she has been able to coach over her 10-year coaching career.

“This is an exciting time to be at Georgia Southwestern and in the Peach Belt Conference,” Haden said. “I got to witness my first Peach Belt Championship yesterday with our baseball program, joining women’s basketball and golf, to win regular season championships this year. I’m excited to join a department of winners, of high-level people and of high-level coaches. One thing I’ve always loved about the game of basketball is that it’s the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself and that’s what we have here at Georgia Southwestern,” Haden continued.

She went on to say that when done right, college athletics is a holistic experience and that the mission of the GSW Athletic Department aligns with her personal mission: To develop, inspire and empower young women to be confident leaders who will leave people and places better than they found them.

Haden went on to say that she is excited to join a university that has a program like the Hurricanes Program, which led the country in community service hours.

“As for our women’s basketball program, we are the reigning Peach Belt champions and we don’t plan to rebuild, but to reload,” Haden said. “We will work tirelessly to continue to win championships. We will cultivate a sister hood. We will achieve academically and we will strive to be the best versions of ourselves. We will be disciplined, tough and together. I’m a firm believer in how you do anything is how you do everything. Disciplined teams take pride in doing things the right way on and off the floor. Our toughness will be our mindset, physically and mentally. Our togetherness speaks to our connectivity and this is important all season long, but in March, it’s a huge separating factor in what teams want to play with and for each other,” Haden continued.

She went on to say that her team will be the most prepared team every time the Lady Canes hit the floor and that her squad will be disruptive and gritty defensively. She stated that GSW will play at a pace that the fans will enjoy watching and that the team will enjoy playing at. “We will expect championships, not just because of the success that was had this year, but because of the work that we will put in on a daily basis and the standards we will hold ourselves to,” Haden said. “We will recruit Georgia, the Southeast region and the rest of the country to bring in talented student-athletes of high character who will represent Georgia Southwestern with pride. We will continue to engrain ourselves in this community and we will graduate and become proud GSW alum.”

She added that she is looking forward to building relationships with the current roster, but is also looking forward to adding players that will continue to keep the program at the top of the Peach Belt Conference. She also expressed her excitement about building a bridge with GSW alumni and to have them as a part of the program.

In closing, Haden stated that she is eager to meet and engage with GSW fans and donors and is excited to witness the energy from the fans at the Storm Dome during GSW games.

After her speech, Haden sat down with the Americus Times-Recorder and was asked how she plans to “keep the train rolling”, as far the success of the program is concerned. “Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting,” she responded. “That’s the key to keep this thing rolling is to continue to bring in that level of players,” Haden said.

As far as the type of offense the Lady Canes will play during the 2023-24 season, according to Coach Haden, it will be very similar to what GSW fans saw last year under Coach Justin Payne. “As we continue to fill out the roster, we will really be able to figure out what we’re running in the half court,” Haden said. “It’s just depending on personnel, but we will play at a fast pace. We will run and gun. We will press every single possession so we will be out in transition a lot, scoring quickly.”

As far as how the Lady Canes will play defense, Haden says they will press on every single possession and will use a variety of presses. “I have three different presses I typically use and it will all go back to man to man for the most part, but it will all be very aggressive and very disruptive,” Haden said. “It’s really geared towards taking teams out of their comfort zone.”