WILLIAMS -- It's never too late to get started. Hidden Valley's Hannah Hayes, who was just named the Skyline Conference's Player of the Year in volleyball, didn't even start playing competitively until her sophomore year.
"I didn't play my freshman year, but I loved volleyball so much that I stayed in the class, the volleyball class here that Hidden Valley holds, and I worked every single day with the team," Hayes said, "I didn't go off with the non-volleyball players, I played with the volleyball players so I could get good."
Her head coach Robert Jackson is astonished with the growth he's seen from Hayes, who was unpolished as a sophomore coming into the program.
"It's pretty impressive how good she is, being player of the year her senior year in volleyball and making the all-tournament team," Jackson said, "If you would've told me that two years ago when she was a sophomore first starting, I would've laughed at you."
By her senior year, Hayes was the best player in the conference and helped lead the Mustangs to a third-place finish in the state tournament. With zero break, she moved onto basketball season, one of the other two sports she plays. She wasn't always one of the best players on the hardwood either.
"Sixth-grade year, I tried out and didn't make the team, but I liked it so much I was a practice player and worked every day to get better," Hayes said, "Seventh-grade year, I ended up being a starter."
Hayes' story is one of perseverence. She has never let failure get to her, which is why she is emerging as an elite athlete in multiple sports. The third sport she plays, softball, she did not take up until high school.
"I started my freshman year and I had never played softball before," Hayes said.
More than anything, what has enabled her to become an elite three-sport athlete is the support she's gotten from Coach Jackson and his family, who she now lives with.
"Hannah lives with my family. She came into our household about a year and a half ago," Jackson said, "She's just been a blessing to our family."
Hannah's mom is a single mother working multiple jobs, without the time to get Hannah to all the sporting events she needs. In order to best help her in her athletic development, she made the difficult decision to let Hannah live with the Jacksons so she could get to every sport she needs to.
"Her mom has really sacrificed to let her stay with us so she can have that support," Jackson said, "It's that ultimate love of saying 'this is a better situation for you" to get the support you need to be really successful.'"
Thanks to that sacrifice, Hannah now has a bright future in collegiate athletics, where she doesn't plan on slowing down.
"She's going to get to pick and choose what she wants to do," Jackson said, "She's already been talking about wanting to play at least two sports in college."
Hannah, while developing in high school, has learned a valuable lesson. It's one she will be able to take with her long after her playing career, in whatever sport it may be, is over.
"If you work hard and put your mind toward something, you can accomplish a lot of things."
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