Hailey Easterly’s unique journey to rowing at Texas

TJ Krilowicz, General Sports Reporter

Becoming a professional athlete in the U.S. is a rare feat.

However, junior rower Hailey Easterly comes from a background of athletes, with two family members playing in the NFL and others playing college sports.

“I have multiple (athletes in the family) actually,” Easterly said. “It’s not just Randall Cobb, it’s also Randall Cunningham … so it’s a big deal. Sports are a big part of my family.”

Cobb is a wide receiver who played college football at Kentucky. He most recently played for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL and is a current free agent. Cunningham was a quarterback in UNLV from 1981-1984, before spending 16 years in the NFL with various teams. 

“(There are) many athletes in the family and it’s just great, but having someone who’s pro, I look up to them a lot,” Easterly said.

The junior rower’s father also played college football at Georgia Tech, and her uncle played football at Maryland.

Although Easterly comes from an athletically rich background, she has a unique journey of her own. She started out as a volleyball player, playing for A5 Volleyball Club in Rosewell, Georgia.

“I was a volleyball player for 11 years and I was getting interest for volleyball for college,” Easterly said. “(It) wasn’t at the schools I really wanted to go to.”

She was approached by a Virginia rowing coach at a volleyball tournament who asked her if she’d ever consider rowing. At first, Easterly denied the idea of switching to rowing in college until a very peculiar situation arose.

While at the Atlanta airport, Easterly and her mother were discussing rowing. Unbeknownst to them, the husband of one of Texas’ rowing coaches was listening in on their conversation. The husband got Easterly in contact with his wife, and she took an official visit to Texas soon after, which would lock her in as a Longhorn.

Furthermore, not only has Easterly been working hard on the water, she has also taken full advantage of the academics here at Texas, hoping to attend law school after receiving her bachelor’s degree.

“I 1000% believe in being a student first,” Easterly said. “We are student athletes, but (being a) student comes before the athlete part.”

Easterly was even awarded 2022 Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors and is a three-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s honor roll.

Although Easterly may not have originally planned to go to Texas, she’s grown into her new sport in Austin and her new life.