What’s Inside? Heidi Burge Horton

Heidi Burge Horton gets a rebound while playing for the Washington D.C. Mystics team in 1998. (AP photo)

By Lara Bell –

If you follow women’s basketball, then chances are you have heard of Memorial resident Heidi Burge Horton. She played in the WNBA for the LA Sparks and Washington Mystics, as well as competed in three Final Four Championships.   Now this superstar is helping kids through her Hoops School motivating kids and adults alike what it takes to achieve your dreams- so this month were going inside the hoop’s with Heidi!
AM –You have a twin sister,  don’t you? What was that like growing up?!HBH  –  I love being a twin, although we were each others’ arch enemy on the court. We were and are extremely competitive. We love each other and love to beat the other one!   We were extremely tall, but being a twin helped. When you have another person as tall and skinny as you are, it helps to have a buddy to share and stick to when people are judgmental or you feel “out of place.” I actually enjoyed being tall because my mother taught me well to be proud of my height.  It was nothing to be ashamed of.  I also had tall California friends as role models to show me “it’s okay to be tall.” Plus, Heather and I both used our height as an advantage by playing and competing successfully in sports —volleyball, track and field, and basketball.

AM – I heard you were in the Guinness Book of World Records. What for?

HBH – Heather and I were pronounced to be the Tallest Female Identical Twins In The World from 1991 to 2009 (17 years). Anne and Claire Recht are the new entries for Tallest Female Identical Twins since 2008, standing at almost 6’6” tall. Heather and I were listed officially as 6’4 ¾”. We had to have three doctors confirm that height.

AM – Is it true Disney did a movie on your life?  If so, tell us about it.

Heidi Burge Horton with high school basketball coach Wendell Yoshida and sister Heather Burge Quella.

HBH – Yes, in 2002 Disney made for cable movie about a girls’ basketball player. They told me I was one of five finalists that this movie was going to be about. I said, “Great and told them about my identical twin sister, Heather, who was not currently in the WNBA  due to an injury overseas playing basketball.” When they learned of my twin sister, as well as the fact I had open heart surgery to repair my aorta as a five-month-old infant, they decided to make the movie about us. The movie represents Heather and my differences in a realistic way.  The general story line is true, but many scenes were altered as Hollywood does to make a “dramatization of the truth.” The movie is called Double Teamed. It still plays on Disney today.  It was ranked as one of the best Disney cable movies of all time.

AM – Why did you start Hoops School?

HBH – I started Heidi’s Hoops School because of my love for kids.  I wanted all kids to have the exposure to basketball or any sport and I was an orthopedic massage therapist.  I still give back to the community, donating numerous free passes to attend our Hoops School Camps, especially in the Spring Branch/Memorial area. I never turn down a family who has “financial” disabilities  if their child is eager to learn.

AM  – What advice would you give to kids who dream of playing in the WNBA or NBA?

HBH – No matter how tall you are if you have a dream to be in the WNBA, the NBA or any professional sport, go after your dream.  Learn how to work hard, especially when no one is watching, be disciplined to do daily small tasks,  have fun at what you do,  be a team player  in the sense of seeking to build up others, while always keeping your own attitude in check.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do it.  Be your “personal best” every time you set foot out on the court, the field or the stage.  And, when you have achieved what you set out to achieve, go back and thank all of your coaches and mentors by giving back as coach or counselor in your sport.

Hoops School 2012 Summer Coaching Staff Gabby Wright, Elisa Beagle, Austin Tucker, head coach Heidi Horton, Leveil Lander and Jordan Brooks.

AM – Last question. Since Thanksgiving is this month, I’m curious, what you are thankful for?

HBH – I am thankful for family and relationships. I am thankful for all the people who challenged me, showed me the way, knocked me down,  and who I knocked down on my way up.  I am thankful to my parents for always instilling in me the “can do” attitude, for encouraging me and letting me know I was okay even when the challenges were tough.  I am thankful to God for giving me height!  I am thankful also that God gave me a primary group of coaches, mentors and parents and sister who showed me the way I need to be, by pushing me or modeling the right way to live and be!  In the past 10 years, I thank my husband for teaching me how to unlearn all the things I learned as a professional athlete.  Thank you, Patrick, for showing me this slow, southern kind of sweet Texas living.  And I thank God for all children, my own two, Jonathan and Holly, and all the others who I am blessed to know and coach.