Vanessa Randall Hayden was born June 5, 1982 in Orlando, Florida. While at Boone (1997-2000) Vanessa was a four year starter on the Girls Basketball
Team. She was named 1st Team all Metro Conference as a Senior. In addition, Vanessa broke the Boone High School record for blocked shots, swatting 539
in her final three years. During her Senior year, Vanessa averaged 17 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game, while helping the Lady Braves advance to the Class 6A Final Four for the third consecutive year. In her Junior year she averaged 14.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 7.4 blocks/game. Vanessa earned 2nd team Metro Conference honors as Junior. In 1998, her Sophomore year, Vanessa was the Most Valuable Player of the State Championship Final Four.
Following Vanessa’s Senior year she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Florida. She was also honored as All USA Today High School Honorable Mention for Florida, WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, Full Court Press Second Team All-American, and Sixth Team All-American by All Star Girls Report. Vanessa was just one of 42 players aged 18-and-younger invited to tryout for the 2000 Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying team. Vanessa also represented the EAST team in the inaugural L’adidas High School All-Star game played in Knoxville, Tennessee and she scored five points in that game. In June, 2001 Vanessa was one of 31 players invited to tryout for the 2001 USA Basketball Junior National Team.
Hayden accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where she played for the Florida Gators women’s basketball team from 2000 to 2004. She received many awards throughout her career including named the 2002 and 2004 Kodak/WBCA Region 3 All-American and 2004 John R. Wooden Player of the Year. She was also the inaugural SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and holds University of Florida’s all-time blocked shot record with 357, a total that ranked third all-time in SEC history upon her graduation. In the UF record book upon graduation, she ranked seventh all-time for scoring (1,576) and fifth for rebounding (1,105). She was selected first team All-Freshman by Real Sport Magazine and named to the five-player SEC All-Freshman Team. Her Sophomore year, she was named WBCA Kodak District 3 All-American, AP Honorable Mention All-American, womenscollegehoops.com Honorable Mention All-American, First Team All-SEC, became the first Gator ever to lead the nation in a statistical category, blocking 4.3 shots per game (126 in 29 games), and tied the all-time NCAA record for blocked shot average by a sophomore. Vanessa one of 30 preseason candidates for Naismith National Player of the Year prior to her Junior year, however spent most of the season injured. Despite missing nearly half the games, she was named Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American. Her Senior Year she was honored as Kodak/WBCA Region 3 All-American, John R. Wooden Player of the Year, All-America Team Finalist (16 players), SEC Defensive Player of the Year,
First Team All-SEC (Coaches’ and Media teams), Associated Press Second Team All-American, became the third All-Time Leading Shot Blocker in SEC History, and set UF record for most career SEC Player of the Week honors (five).
Vanessa graduated from University of Florida in 2005 with a degree in Family, Youth & Community Services. Vanessa was selected by the Minnesota Lynx as the seventh overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft on April 17, 2004. Vanessa played four seasons with the Minnesota Lynx and one season with the Los Angeles Sparks.
Vanessa resides in Orlando with Colin and her two children, Zyon and Marley.