EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — It didn’t take long for Theryn Hallock and Abbey Kimball to start working as a team when they arrived on campus at Michigan State University.
Basketball workouts have already started in the couple of weeks the West Michigan natives have been on the Spartan women’s basketball team.
As roommates, the two freshman who have been friends since fourth grade are learning the college ropes together: starting their first class, bonding with teammates, learning more about East Lansing and even making breakfast together.
“Our signature dish is a breakfast egg sandwich,” Hallock said, Kimball laughing next to her. “I toast the bagel and put cream cheese on it while she makes the egg. If you ask me, it’s pretty good.”
Cooking, learning and experiencing college firsts together has been made a little easier for both Hallock and Kimball because they have each other. They always have. Coming up through Amateur Athletic Union ball together in grade school and the Michigan Basketball Academy, Hallock and Kimball got to know each other playing on the same teams and against each other. As they each started to emerge as among the best in MHSAA girls hoops, offers started to come in from multiple universities. When they both ended up electing to head an hour down I-96 for college at MSU, it was a no-brainer they would live together.
Their paths of becoming Spartans, however, were much different. Kimball, a 1,000-plus point scorer at Grand Rapids West Catholic high school, started out as a softball player and thought she would follow in her sister’s footsteps of playing the same sport. Noel Johnson was one of the main MSU coaches who convinced Kimball basketball should be her path. She was right. Kimball made varsity since as a sophomore and only lost four games in three years with the Falcons. As the point guard and leader, she helped win 64 games. Her final game was at the Breslin Center, where the Falcons fell to Detroit Edison in the state championship.
When MSU head coach Suzy Merchant put in the offer, Kimball couldn’t turn it down.
“It took a lot of work to get here but it makes it worth it to now be seeing the results,” Kimball said. “The distance from home and the community here is perfect for me. It was worth all the effort it took to be here.”
Hallock, on the other hand, is a lightning quick guard at 5-foot-9 with speed to get from end to end in the blink of an eye. She also earned the Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year in soccer less than a month ago for helping lead Forest Hills Central to a Division 2 State title, showing how athletic she truly is. In her senior basketball season as a Ranger, Hallock averaged 26 points, 11.4 rebounds, 6.5 steals, 4.8 blocks and shot 54 percent from the floor.
Hallock’s family bleeds green and white. Her father Ty and brother Tate Hallock played football at MSU and her other brother Tanner was a walk-on. That made MSU a dream destination.
“Whenever Suzy, Noel or whatever coach was coming to my games, I had to put on a show for them so they would give me a look,” Theryn Hallock said. “I had to be in the gym all the time, workout room, whatever it was and I just made sure I could represent Forest Hills or MBA through myself. Once I got the offer, I kept my mind open for another month or two, but I knew where I wanted to be.”
Now, two West Michigan basketball standouts will share the same floor at the Breslin. The two are enjoying living together as friends who have been through most stages of life together.
“Just to be here already making memories together is so much fun,” Kimball said. “Time management is probably the biggest adjustment to this point, but having someone like Theryn here to keep me on track has already been a huge help. I’m thankful to be doing this with her.”
Of course, the Spartans’ older players have already been a big help as well. The Spartans have four seniors (Taiyier Parks, Jayla James, Moria Joiner and Tory Ozment) and two juniors (Gabby Elliott and Julia Ayrault) who have made the freshman feel welcome. It’s part of the Spartan culture that Merchant has developed and Hallock and Kimball loved so much when picking MSU.
“It feels like we’ve already gotten super close with the team because they are all super welcoming,” Hallock said. “We don’t feel uncomfortable in any situation because they always have our backs. Even in just two weeks, it feels like we’ve known them longer.”
Those bonds will help when the Hallock, Kimball and Spartans take the floor to open the 2022-23 season together in late October and early November.
This is the first time in a long time that Hallock and Kimball are entering a team trying to learn from their peers instead of being the leaders. That’s something Kimball is enjoying.
“I’ve been looking forward to this challenge to grow as a player,” Kimball said. “Now that I’m here, I’m eager to learn and enjoy a challenge.”
Regardless of what obstacles get thrown at them, Hallock and Kimball have each other to lean on through it all — even for tasks as simple as the next signature roommate dish.