The uniforms tell a story.
When Haley Wynn’s grandmother, Lynn, put on her Dana College basketball uniform, women’s collegiate athletics was still in its infancy. Short, silk uniforms with zippers in the front, long striped socks and Converse seemed to be the norm. It’s hard to know whether the women competing in these sports knew the paths they were forging for future generations.
Haley Wynn is the product of her grandmother’s path. The third generation of Wynn women in collegiate sports has continued the path that her grandmother started and her mother, Laura, continued paving. From the basketball nets that Lynn shot on to the volleyball nets that Laura hit over to the nets around the batting cages that Haley hit at, the Wynn women have each blazed a trail that the others have continued. Sports have been a way for the Wynn’s to spend time.
“Sports has, honestly, brought us together,” Haley said. “It’s always been a way that our family can connect.”
Sports are what helped form the Wynn family. Lynn Wynn met her husband, Knight Wynn, who competed in football and track and field at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, through sports. Laura Wynn met her husband, Eric Wynn, who competed in football and track and field at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville through sports. The opportunity to compete in collegiate sports across three generations is special to the Wynn’s.
“This is an opportunity a lot of people don’t have,” Eric said. “If you play a sport you love to play, play it as long as you can. It’s not going to be there forever. If God reached out and gave you the ability to do something, then you should do it.”
Haley had the opportunity to play two sports at the collegiate level. She was a four-year starter in volleyball at Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wisconsin, earning Woodland Conference Player of the Year honors as both a junior and senior and was a three-time all-conference first team member.
However, Haley pursued softball heading into college. She always appreciated the competition the sport brought during her early days playing and loved watching her parents’ slow-pitch games growing up. Despite playing many sports during her childhood, softball always stuck with her.
Haley graduated from Whitnall in 2019, receiving Southwest Athlete of the Year honors (multi-sport) in 2018, but she said her accolades meant nothing when she stepped foot in Muncie.
As soon as Haley came to Ball State, she met many people just like her — athletes who dominated at their high schools and in their respective sports.
“I thought, ‘Wow, OK, I’ve got to work a lot harder here. I’ve got to earn my spot. I’ve got to show everyone what I got,’” Haley said. “It’s been good, working hard, giving 110%. Each year, I’ve continued to work just a little bit harder. When I came in as a freshman, it was intimidating, with all these girls who have played softball their entire lives. And the game is faster, so adjusting to that has been very interesting. ”
For Haley, her family and their support has helped her tremendously in where she is now. She said her mom always brought a “positive environment” to competitions while her dad coached her and helped her develop skills. Even though they live in Nebraska, her grandparents would also travel around with her to every preseason game, which became a yearly tradition.
Laura said sports have helped create lasting connections among the Wynn family, as they’ve built “so many memories and so many relationships.”
“We’ve built so many friend groups by just going to ball games,” Laura said. “Sports are just so important. They help to establish teamwork; they help you to build friendships and relationships that last.”
Eric said he and his family have built its vacations, spring breaks and summer breaks all around what sport Haley or her younger brother, Carter Wynn, Saint Xavier University Football commit, were participating in at the time. He knows sports are just games but understands the bigger picture outside the competition.
“You have the chance to play the game,” Eric said, “to have fun, to meet new people, and that’s what it’s all about — [having] fun doing it.”
As a second-generation athlete, Eric has taken what he learned from his father, Knight, into his teachings with Haley.
“Sports has always been in our family,” Eric said. “We’ve always been encouraged to participate. Whether you're the best or the worst, make sure you can contribute in the best way possible. My parents always encouraged my brother and I to try new sports. We’ve always encouraged our kids to do different things.”
Whether it was Lynn and Knight at Dana, Laura and Eric at Wisconsin-Platteville or Haley at Ball State, the Wynn family has revolved their lives around sports. The jerseys they have worn have told the stories of the paths each Wynn has carved. Even when they aren’t competing, sports will always be around, connecting the family just like it has time and time again.
“Sports just bring us together,” Haley said. “We play games together and get so competitive. We sit down on Sunday and watch NFL football. In the summer, we’ll go to the diamond, and we’ll hit balls together. It’s always been a way that our family hangs out.”
Contact Nate Grubb with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @GrubbNate43.