Hayes twins sign with Emmanuel College

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Boyle County seniors Hunter and Natalie Hayes both signed for Emmanuel College — a Division-II school in Franklin Springs, Georgia — but their path to signing was very different.
“We made the decision very independently and in our own process,” Natalie said. “Hunter decided about five weeks ahead of me that he was going to go to Emmanuel. When he decided, I was like, ‘I’m nowhere near making a decision.’”

Both Hunter and Natalie are state-ranked swimmers. Hunter placed seventh in the 200 IM last year at state and eighth in the 100-yard backstroke. Natalie placed seventh at state in the 100 yard butterfly as a sophomore. She didn’t participate in state as a junior due to a concussion from earlier in the year.

Hunter said that his decision was a quick one.

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“I basically made it weeks before, I just didn’t tell anybody,” he said. “It was really just unconscious. I knew. The other places I visited, they didn’t really have what I was liking. I really enjoyed my time with coach (Allen) Gilchrest, he’s a great coach, very knowledgeable. The team was great, they’re really fast. The place, we’ve known about it for a long time. All of the factors just came together and I just knew it was the right place for me. I would go out and check places, make sure that Emmanuel was the place I wanted to go. But I kind of always knew Emmanuel was my top place.”

Natalie’s decision-making process was the opposite. She took her time with her college choice. Like her brother, she made visits to multiple schools, including a handful of Division-I programs. Toledo was one that stood out to her, but in the end, she picked Emmanuel — but not because her brother was going there.

“For me, what it came down to, I really loved the coach,” she said. “I was impressed with him as a person and his coaching skills. I really felt like I fit with the team really well. One of the things the coach said to me on the phone, he said ‘we have the possibility to compete for a national championship in Division-II.’ I never really thought of that. I wanted someone to be my coach that believed in me as much as I do or moreso. That really made the decision for me.”

The twins said that at the start of the recruiting process, they agreed that they wouldn’t worry about trying to go to the same school.

“We said we wouldn’t even try to go to the same school because we felt like we might have to sacrifice too much, just because our interests are so different,” Natalie said. “We want different things out of swimming. I feel like Emmanuel is just the right place for us for different reasons.”

Hunter said that when he made his decision, he had come to terms with his twin sister going to another school.

“When I made my decision, she was actually getting ready to go on a trip to Toledo,” Hunter said. “I basically accepted the fact that we weren’t going to go to the same school. We’re two completely different majors, I’m in business and she’s going to be neuroscience. She had multiple opportunities to go D-I. I just thought that I’ll be OK and we’ll work with it if she goes somewhere else. I just let her do what she needed to do.”

Both said that their parents — Rhonda and Mark — were completely understanding and didn’t push them one way or another, even though their mother graduated from Emmanuel.

“Emmanuel was pretty much the only school that Hunter and I had the opportunity to be at the same place,” Natalie said. “My mom went to school there when it was a junior college, her family is from there. There were a lot of factors for my parents that they both really wanted us to go to Emmanuel, but that wasn’t really much of a factor for me.

“It was just a positive after my decision. They did a good job not pressuring me, one of the other schools I was seriously considering was Toledo, six hours in the other direction from here. It’s great that I could make a decision that I’m happy with and everyone around me is happy with, too.”

Hunter said they swim four days a week for Lakeside Swim Team in Louisville, while squeezing in meets and practices with the Rebels.

All of that travel time together means that there can’t be any arguments between them. Both said that when they fight, it doesn’t last long. Hunter said they get along well.

“Hunter and I have to spend more time with each other than anyone else on earth,” Natalie said. “So if there’s anything between us, we have to work it out quickly. It’s the most miserable thing if we don’t.”

The pressure on each of them throughout the process was different, Natalie said. Hunter said it was a “chill process,” but it wasn’t for his sister.

“We had to pressure him into going and seeing other places,” Natalie said. “For me, this was not a chill process at all. I made the decision and cried for like an hour, I was so happy. Our parents always joke about the fact that we came to the same conclusion in completely different ways. It wouldn’t be true to either of us if we didn’t.”