After an aunt, an uncle and her own mother competed at BYU, it seemed only fitting Jennifer Hamson would follow in their footsteps. But they never pushed her to play college athletics, they simply offered their support.
Jennifer “The Hammer” Hamson found her passion for athletics all on her own, and as a result of her hard work has found great success on both the BYU volleyball and basketball teams.
Standing at a towering 6-foot-6, Hamson began her athletic career at the age of five. She did not start on a basketball or volleyball team but instead competed in gymnastics — a sport for people well under 60 inches.
“Growing up I had a best friend and she was really short so we did gymnastics together,” Hamson said. “I stuck with it, but then I got too tall so I decided to move on and try something new.”
Hamson’s mother, Tresa Spaulding Hamson, a former BYU basketball all-star, said she wanted her daughter to be a well-rounded person, and gymnastics began to take up much of Jennifer’s time.
“Jen is competitive and is very driven,” Tresa said. “She has a drive to be successful and she can do whatever she puts her mind to.”
By the time Hamson reached eighth grade, she had decided volleyball was a better fit and chose to leave her gymnastics career behind. Basketball was not even introduced to Hamson until the ninth grade, when she decided to try out for her school team.
“I knew her potential in gymnastics was going to end,” Tresa said. “She had never played basketball before ninth grade and so I tried to get together a fall program for her before basketball started because she had never played, period. I taught her as much as I could and she picked it up really quickly.”
It would not take long before Hamson got the hang of both basketball and volleyball and stood out in each. She played varsity basketball and volleyball for Pleasant Grove High School, where she earned several athletic awards and competed in the state playoffs. In her senior year, Hamson led her team to a state championship. On top of her academic success, she maintained a 4.0 GPA and played the piano.
“She enjoys being busy and is very dedicated,” Hamson’s mother said. “We do have a little rule in our family that you have to play a musical instrument, keep good grades and be active in some physical activity. We do not care what sport they play, they just need to be physically active.”
Needless to say, college scouts were desperately hoping to add Hamson to their roster, but she chose to play both basketball and volleyball for BYU.
“BYU is close to home and playing double sports I knew I would have little time to spend with my family so I wanted to be close,” Hamson said. “And I also love the environment here; it’s a great atmosphere.”
Hamson’s successful story does not end with an athletic scholarship to BYU. Last month, Hamson was named WCC player of the month. She is also the volleyball team leader in kills and had the most blocks for the Cougars in basketball last season.
However, managing two collegiate sports and a rigorous class schedule is no small task.
“[Women’s basketball coach Jeff] Judkins and I talk a lot,” BYU head volleyball coach Shawn Olmstead said. “There is a lot of communication between us and Jen to make sure her schedule is all worked out.”
Hamson hopes to continue to excel both in the classroom and on the court — both courts, that is. With her dedication and determination, she feels that is in her grasp.
“I just want to help my teams win,” Hamson said. “I want to win a few conference championships and ultimately win a national championship. I also just want to have fun and be the best I can.”