A wise man once told me that “If you can get a girl focused on something she will run through all fall for it no questions asked.” The same can be said about Shakyla Hill on and off the court. The basketball world was put on notice in 2018 when she recorded her quadruple-double, but what we should be paying attention to the most is what she does off the court. Shakyla Hill, AKA, Ms. Quadruple-Double, is very outspoken about social inequality, racism, and the lack of respect/coverage of female sports. I spoke to Hill about her success overseas, her love for HBCUs, using her platform to speak for those who can’t, and much more.
Talk about COVID-19 ending your season early and your experience in Serbia.
“So, actually, we just won our cup championship. We won that Sunday and I was on a plane that Tuesday because they were about to shut the country of Serbia down. No people in and no people out. It ended our season early. We were actually about to play in the playoffs… We were ranked number one and they ended our season. Technically they said suspended, but they ended our season right there, so we dispersed and went home due to the coronavirus.”
“For me, it was great. Everyone’s rookie experience that I’ve heard that went overseas was terrible. So I think I had low expectations going in, but maybe that’s why it was so great. The food wasn’t all that good, but everything else was great. It was kind of different as far as the architecture. When people think about overseas, Europe, and those countries, you think about pretty places. You think of Paris, you think of Greece, you think of beautiful Places and its rarely like that. All the places I’ve been (not to talk bad about them) were rundown. Not many beautiful places, houses, or buildings. It’s totally a culture shock. But it was great. My experience with my teammates, team, and coach was great. It was just different with the food and the buildings.”
Talk about your success as a rookie. Winning Guard of the Year and making the 1st Team.
“That was really big for me because when I first got there I would cry every day. It was really hard being away from home. My mom comes to every game like she does not miss a game. It was hard being on the other side of the world and her not being able to come to any games or see anything. But I performed pretty well. Initially, it was hard for me. I cried every day. It was hard for me to adjust to my coach. All of my teammates spoke English, but my coach did not. So we butted heads, one for me not wanting to be there which threw it off and also our language barrier. So I disregarded a lot of things he said. When he would say things, I would say, ‘I don’t understand.’ So initially it was really (bad), but as the season progressed he and I got along more and I started to fill the role that the owner wanted me to take. I ended up getting Guard of the Year and on the 1st team, which I think is really big coming into your first year.”
Talk about using your platform to speak on racism, sexism in sports, and other worldwide issues.
“I felt that (my platform) was (what) God gave me. I was gifted with this platform. There are so many women that are talented in whatever they do and they don’t have the platform or the people that pay attention for them to say on the issues and since I have that platform I feel that it is my responsibility to speak on those issues for the people that aren’t able to speak up. So I’ll always speak on sexism and racism. It’s definitely hard right now being a black person in America. You know, we are going through a lot and I feel like we are on the edge of this. I feel as a black woman it is so much harder at this point in time because we are going through so much and we are fighting for so much… Sexism as a whole, women’s basketball is appreciated as it should be. I don’t think women are appreciated as they should be, but definitely women’s basketball. Me, being a women’s basketball player and a black woman, I’m definitely going to speak up every time I see something wrong or I see any injustice happening. As I said, God really blessed me to have the platform that I have. Because women’s basketball isn’t as appreciated as it should be. My peers and a lot of other people listen when I speak and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Do you think that there are more things women’s professional leagues or the media can do to popularize the sport?
“I definitely feel like the media could cover it more. The WNBA Draft was on TV for maybe two hours, but the NFL draft has three days of coverage. And they cut off the end of the WNBA draft. We won’t be appreciated until the people in a position to appreciate us, appreciate us… But if we had somebody in our corner powerful enough to make decisions and the media follows up on it, the rest of the world will follow. The media has a hand in everything that goes on. I feel that if more people decide to cover it or if they decide to push for the WNBA or women’s sports. You know the U.S. Women’s National Team wins more games than the men’s team and they (won) the World Cup, but they are getting paid a lot less than the men. There are a lot of women’s sports that aren’t appreciated enough… Most of the disrespect comes from people who aren’t capable of playing or haven’t seen women’s basketball.”
Hill says after she recorded her first quadruple-double she received “so much hate” causing her to change her number and defend herself in comments. Many of the trolls said, “women’s basketball is not a sport because they can’t dunk”. Many of the trolls said she “belonged in the kitchen.”
Talk about growing your brand off the court.
“I want to start this foundation and I want to start an AAU team. I want to do a lot of stuff to help where I’m from. Just to promote things and give back to the community and the kids. My first agenda was my brand. After the quadruple-doubles, I always had a brand. So my senior year I had shirts made that I paid for, for my closest friends and family. So I had three extra shirts that I gave away and people would wear them and ask me where did you get those from? why don’t you sell them? As you know in college you can’t make money from your own name… So when I went overseas I debated is this what I really want to do? So I went on and did it. It centers mainly about myself especially but its merch on there about HBCU and everything that is important to me on the website. Eighty percent of the fund is to fund my AAU team for next year.”
What are your thoughts on the highly recruited high school athletes potentially choosing the HBCU route?
“That’s super big. I know we are not funded like other schools are and I feel that when we start to get top tier athletes, not just one every once in a while, they will have no choice but to fund HBCUs. We have these money games, where these big schools pay you all this money just to come and lose. Imagine a school paying you and you go out there and win? Now you’re getting TV times, deals and your school is getting money. I think it is very important that these black athletes, especially nowadays when you are seeing some of these coaches not speaking up or aren’t advocating for the same athletes that they are making money off of. I definitely think HBCUs should be a bigger idea in their mind. I knew that I always wanted to go to an HBCU. It was never a doubt in my mind for me… If you do what you’re supposed to do, you will get the recognition you deserve. I went to an HBCU and I feel that I wouldn’t have gotten this much attention if I would of went anywhere else. For sure. I am definitely appreciative of my experience at my HBCU and all the opportunities it granted me with after I graduated and in school.”
Talk about being in the basketball history books with the most quadruple-doubles in Division I history.
“That is one of the biggest things for me because I did it at an HBCU. Also, I’ve never made history before. That’s a big thing. Being at an HBCU, a black school, being the only person to do that, and putting my name alongside Grambling State in the history books means everything to me. They gave me an opportunity when nobody gave me an opportunity. It is very, very big for me. It’s actually a blessing. Being the only person with two of them in Division I basketball history. It’s kind of mindblowing that it happened to me. When I did it in Serbia, I was the first person to have it there, it’s really humbling to be the first person to do something. It reflects on my school, on me and my parents. I am very appreciative of making history and I feel that all it does is shine a light. I tell my coaches all the time, you can use any recruiting point you need to make. I think it helps recruiting. With the platform I have now, it’s reached so many kids and students. Someone might go play basketball at an HBCU because they can get the same attention as if they went to Duke.”
Do you feel pregame or midgame that I can get a quadruple-double?
“The first time I did it I was in shock. The second time I played a school from Arkansas where I’m from that didn’t recruit me at all, so I felt that was so big. The third time I felt it. I felt it after the first quarter, I had three steals back to back to back. That’s the hardest thing to get. Overseas, it’s not that hard to get because the only reason you are there is to make shots. As for the rebounds, it’s not that hard to get, but it’s all about your hustle. That’s one thing about me that is unmatched. I have a drive, hustle, and motor that just won’t quit. My motor is definitely what helps me get it. I am definitely a skilled basketball player but the quadruple-doubles I have gotten have nothing to do with skill but only to do with my heart and motor during the game.”