ConqHER is about female athletes that are pushing boundaries every single day. These women and their stories inspire athletes and demonstrate that sports cannot be define by gender – only heart.
Adrianna Hahn has toughness ingrained in her DNA. The standout Villanova and Ursuline Academy alum had to overcome challenge after challenge during her prolific college and high school basketball career. But even through those hardships, Hahn’s confidence and drive to be great never wavered.
Hahn sustained her first major knee injury at just 12 years old. She tore her ACL and was convinced her basketball career had come to a screeching halt. But Hahn was determined to put in the hard work and build herself back up to the exceptional basketball player she knew she could be.
“It was tough. I had to start brand new and teach myself to walk again,” Hahn said. “But I also had to keep that strong work ethic and remember I was still the same Adrianna Hahn. And because I was behind, I had to work even harder and have more urgency to get back on the court and still be the most dominant person on the floor.”
Hahn went on to be a high school basketball star in Delaware, even while battling through two more major knee injuries that required additional surgery and extensive rehab. Colleges noticed that intense drive, paired with her insane 3-point shooting range and skill, and she became one of the state’s best prospects in recent history.
She ended up choosing to play basketball at Villanova and proceeded to create a major name for herself in the program.
After setting the Wildcats’ career 3-pointer record with 315 treys, it became apparent to Hahn that chronic knee injuries would prevent her from continuing her basketball career at a professional level. She felt like she could still play, but the insane pain after gamedays made it difficult for her to walk.
Hahn knew she couldn’t leave behind the game she loved so much. Basketball was entrenched in her identity and she wanted to give back to the community that she had been a part of for so many years.
She found her outlet in training and coaching. A perfect combination of teaching the game she knows so well and inspiring the next generation of players to be great.
Hahn knew how tough it was to be a girl playing a historically male-dominated sport. And she felt how important it was for young, female athletes to have role models and mentors to look up to.
“It is crucial for all athletes to give back, but it’s even more crucial for female athletes to give back,” Hahn said. “We need each other.”
Hahn notes that growing up as a girl whose life revolved around basketball came with a stigma. Because she didn’t try and fit into the traditional norm of being “feminine”, other students thought she was trying too hard to be a boy.
“People made fun of me for playing basketball, people made fun of me for wearing ‘men’s clothes’ like Jordans and high-top sneakers,” Hahn said. “I never had nail polish on, I wasn’t wearing any makeup or jewelry, and I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 20-years-old, so I got bullied.”
But Hahn’s confidence never faltered. She credits her belief in herself and drive to become great as the reasons she was able to block out those bitter people and become one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Delaware.
“I believed in myself and believed in my talents. If I allowed those hateful comments and negative opinions about me to affect me and my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Hahn said. “It’s important for all athletes, especially female athletes, to believe in yourself, believe in your talents, have confidence, and at the same time spread that positivity to other people.”
Now Hahn is spreading that attitude and inspiring young girls who are going through some of the same struggles that she went through. She wants to break down those stereotypes she faced and advocate that no matter your gender, basketball should be celebrated as a sport for all.
“It shouldn’t be a gender thing. As a trainer, I deal with boys AND girls of all ages,” Hahn said. “The footwork that I’m able to do is the footwork they teach NBA players, that they teach D1 college guys, and I’m capable of doing that same footwork and having that same skill set that they have.”
“I speak to everyone the same way. Basketball is all love. We are not just female athletes, we’re athletes. And we will conquer all those obstacles that we face.”
Diana Taurasi is the all-time leader in points scored, Sue Bird in assists. Their careers have been defined by the sustained greatness they play with in every season. They’ve won every type of award and championship the league and world has to offer. Now though, as they enter the twilights of their career leaving the game they each love so much is closer than ever before. The question of legacy is now more pressing than ever. Even the younger stars such as Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd have thought about the impact they would like to leave on the game when they hang it up.
For Bird, winning is the most important thing, “I think when it’s said and done I want to be known as a winner. I really don’t care about anything else. I want to be somebody that teammates spoke highly of, who they looked at as somebody who helped them play their best and ultimately we won.”
The young guns are trying to focus on their impact outside of basketball as well. About her legacy Loyd said, “I want people to look at me and know it’s bigger than just basketball. I’m not here to just score or defend, I’m here to be the voice for other people and let them see there’s something more than just a scorer on the court. I’m trying to help as many people as I can. If you look at me, just know I’m not all about basketball, I’m here to help and encourage people.”
Stewart may have said it best, “When my basketball career is all said and done, the impact I want to have is someone who is a competitor, but also who touched a lot of lives on and off the court and who made people better.”
Other players want to help promote greater equality for athletes. They believe it is vital for everyone to feel they have a place in sports in order to grow participation and increase the sense of community sports create.
Delle Donne said, “If I can somehow change that gap of equality in sports between men and women, if I can leave that legacy, make it far better than when I came in, then that will be way bigger than any championship or statistics.” This desire for their impact to transcend what they do on the court will ultimately draw even more people to the league.
This forward thinking approach is necessary for the long-term success of the league, but there are also present-day issues that need to be addressed. The exposure the league has received in the past couple seasons has been massively important. More fans are making their way to the arenas and more games are being shown on ESPN. However, there is still work to be done.
Delle Donne said, “Seeing us on billboards, being able to watch our games, being able to order your favorite player’s jerseys with ease. There’s a lot that has been done, but there’s a big way to go.”
A bigger spotlight helps dispel negative perceptions about their league which is critical to continued growth.
“I find a lot of people who have negative thoughts about our league haven’t even been to a game. It’s kind of what has been spewed around and I think the more we do to change that the better it will be in the long run,” said Bird.
Loyd concurred, “Just trying to get more visibility to the sport is a work in progress. It’s hard for me to find a person who’s come to games and says they don’t love or enjoy the game. Everyone who has ever come has said, ‘It’s my first time coming to a game and I’ve never been, but I love it!”
While it is imperative the league and players continue to work together to grow the game Taurasi believes the league is in a more stable place these days, “I think the future is very bright. With so many great players and faces and personalities, the game is trending upward and that’s what we need to do – we need to make sure that the product on the court gets better every year and I think you see that happening.”
If Coach John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins were considered the greatest college basketball dynasty of all time, then the UConn Huskies and Coach Geno Auriemma just pushed them out of the top spot completely. The UConn Huskies to many, have already been far and above the best college basketball dynasty of all time. Last night with their record breaking 89th consecutive win, is there any room for argument?
The 1st ranked Huskies led by Maya Moore’s career high 41 points, defeated the 20th ranked Florida State Seminoles 93-62 in front of national TV, press, and the home town fans that have been cheering them on all along the way. The Huskies continued their win streak in a similar fashion to how it has been the whole time, never really giving their opponent a chance to make a run.
Connecticut’s team first approach has been nearly unstoppable for the last ten years. In the last nine years they’ve had consecutive win streaks of 70 consecutive and now 89 consecutive and counting. In that time they’ve racked up 6 national titles. They’ve made an appearance in the NCAA tournament every single year that they’re most notable player Maya Moore has been alive and won regular season conference titles in 18 of those 21 years.
With Greg Wooden, grandson of the legendary John Wooden, in attendance the Connecticut Huskies women’s basketball team graciously and professionally beat the record set by the UCLA Bruins men in 1974. Coach Auriemma and the team gave their respects to what John Wooden and UCLA had accomplished, but there was no question that this accomplishment was in a class of its own.
While many are saying that you can’t compare the men’s and women’s game of college basketball, it seems more fitting to give credit where credit is due.
The Connecticut Huskies are the greatest college basketball dynasty in history.
That was the theme of Tuesday night’s showdown for the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship. After 77 games of beating their opponents with a near 33 point differential, the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies were in for the fight of their streak. In their way? The ladies of the Standford Cardinal, who handed Connecticut their last defeat in the 2008 National Semifinals.
For the first twenty minutes, the Huskies looked like anything but a team on the verge of back-to-back perfect seasons. They scored just 12 points on 5-for-29 (17.2%) shooting. The 12 points marked the lowest first-half scoring output ever in a championship game and the fewest in the history of the Huskies program. About the poor first half performance, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said, “It was one of the few times I can ever remember being speechless. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.” The silver lining in it all was that they managed to hold Stanford to just 20 first half points. Meaning, a quick run could get them right back in the game.
That quick run became a reality when the Lady Huskies stormed out of the gate in the second half. Led by 5 baskets from junior sensation Maya Moore, Connecticut went on a 17-2 run to take a 29-22 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game. UConn senior Tina Charles complimented Moore’s offensive outburst by playing her trademark stifling defense. The 6-foot-4 center grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked 6 shots, and held Stanford center Jayne Appel to 0-for-12 shooting.
After charging to take a 38-27 lead at the 7:42 mark, the Connecticut women never looked back. The game was never any closer than 5 points the rest of the way. The poise of a champion was shown, as there was an answer for every potential Stanford run. When the clock ran down to 0:00, the Lady Huskies celebrated something that they haven’t in the last two seasons; a single digit win. This time, they didn’t win just because they were the better of the two teams on the court. They won because they showed more heart, patience, and resilience than anybody in the world. Second consecutive National Championship and 78-0 perfect record in tact.
Imperfect perfection. A phrase that seemingly contradicts itself. Nevertheless, these Connecticut women lended a bit of validity to its concept on Tuesday night. They didn’t play the game they wanted to play, but rather, the game they had to play. For that reason, these women can hold their heads high and say, for at least 78 nights, perfection was possible.
Look perfect in your own University of Connecticut fan gear: Huskies Fan Gear
photo via yahoo