Wayne County High School alumnus and basketball standout Heather Prater Warren recently received the honor of being inducted into the 2020 Blue Raider Hall of Fame at Middle Tennessee State University.
Heather began receiving attention for her tremendous skill while she was on the WCHS Lady Cats basketball team, being named Tennessee Class A Miss Basketball and Honorable Mention All-American by USA Today. “I honestly only considered UT Martin and MTSU for college following high school,” Heather said. “I was not heavily recruited, and I had a serious boyfriend, whom I later married, so I knew I wanted to stay close to home.”
“When I met Coach Bivens (at MTSU), it was a no brainer. Two hours from home, a chance to immediately play…and just a lot of things fell into line to make it an easy choice.”
Heather went on to enjoy a heralded Lady Raider career at MTSU, and helped lead her team to OVC Championships in 1995 and 96. Heather is the program’s all-time assists leader with more than 600 helpers, is a member of the program’s 1,000-point club (1,360), ranks first all-time for 3-point field goal percentage (.446) and fifth all-time for 3-point field goals made (224). She is also second on the career list for free-throw percentage (.803). Heather earned the AT&T Long Distance Award as the nation’s top 3-point shooter in 1994-95 when she blistered the nets to the tune of 51 percent beyond the arc. She started 113 games in her career and still ranks first and second in the Lady Raider record books for 3-point shooting percentage for a single season. Heather was a two-time All-OVC selection.
While she wasn’t necessarily the dynamic scorer a few of her teammates were, she provided plenty of essential qualities that were necessary to their success: dependability, toughness, and a sharp eye. “I had some success playing mainly because I had good players around me,” Heather said. “It’s nice to be recognized for something like assists, which are sometimes overlooked.”
Through all of her success, Heather and her teammates grew a bond that is stronger now than ever. She helped organize a birthday party in Murfreesboro recently for Coach Bivens, who turned 75 this year. The head coach still means a lot to his former point guard. “He’s just one of those old-school coaches and people that don’t come along very often,” said Heather. “He wasn’t in coaching for himself, like a lot of coaches are. He was truly concerned for his players…our success in basketball was almost secondary to everything else happening.”
Since graduating from MTSU, Heather has dedicated herself to working with kids. She still lives in Waynesboro with her husband Lynn and their daughter Jaylee, and has worn many hats in her career, including teacher, counselor, and current Director of Wayne County Technology Center. “I just truly love working with kids,” Heather said.
Upon her induction into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame, Heather made the following remarks:
“I’ve been trying to find the right words, but it all just seems so surreal. Yesterday was a day I won’t soon forget, and it was so great to be back at MTSU and see so many awesome people who hold a special place in my heart. Covid changed the normal Hall of Fame ceremonies, but the Hall of Fame committee and MTSU personnel still managed to make this event something I will always remember. All of the 2020 MTSU Blue Raider Hall of Fame inductees were able to visit the Hall of Fame building, take photos, see the player banners, participate in a Q&A with Chip Walters, and give a speech like normal.
“When I reflect back on events that happened and people I have met in my lifetime that helped make this possible, I smile. I have truly been blessed with great coaches and teammates at every level which is the only way this could have happened. My family was instrumental early on, making sure I was involved in team sports, and I’m forever grateful to my mom and dad, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and other family members who have supported and encouraged me along this journey. My step-parents, in-laws, and of course Lynn and Jaylee have always been my biggest fans as well. I am proud to be a product of Waynesboro and Wayne County and am grateful for all the support over the years. I am thankful for everything MTSU has done for me and all the precious memories my teammates and I have! There is no greater feeling than to contribute even a tiny bit to a greater cause such as a team goal. Being part of a team creates an unbreakable bond and sisterhood that is unmatched! I love all my Lady Cat and Lady Raider sisters, and not just the ones I played with! To all the local basketball ladies I grew up watching and idolizing during the mid- to late 80s, thank you for inspiring me to work hard at something I loved! During my interview with Chip Walters yesterday, he asked me if I had given more to the game of basketball or if it had given more to me. That’s an easy answer. I can most definitely say I have taken far more than I’ve given. There are so many relationships formed and life lessons in sports that you don’t even realize you’re learning along the way. I am grateful for the successes and the failures because they have both shaped me into the woman I am today. MTSU played an important role during a very impressionable time of my life, and I am forever grateful to be #TRUEBLUE.”
To view more of Heather’s speech, and to read comments from her former coaches and teammates, visit her Facebook page, Heather Prater Warren.