Hannah Sago sings her letter of intent to play volleyball and track and field at Millikin next season surrounded by her dad and coaches.
By BLAKE FAITH
Mt. Zion senior Hannah Sago signed her letter of intent to play volleyball and compete in track and field at Millikin next year.
Sago played volleyball all four years as well as she played on the basketball team and was a jumper on the track and field team. In her senior track and field season finished 12th in the state in triple jump at the state championship.
Sago will take with her the idea of family in her teams from Mt. Zion to Millikin.
“I want to treat everybody like family pretty much and I like staying as close as a family and so I feel like going to Millikin and continuing my sports there,” Sago said. “I want to keep acting like a family there, just like I do here.”
Volleyball head coach Traci Dyer-Townsend said that during the one year she coached Sagi that she was coachable in changing her techniques and adapting quickly and grew as a player and a leader.
“Specifically, her ability to read the offense and line up a block improved tremendously,” Coach Dyer-Townsend said. “Her defense in the back row improved so much. We often joked in practice and chanted ‘HANNAH FOR LIBERO!!’ because she was a me to dig so well in the middle back. By mid-season, she also gained some confidence as a leader on the court and demanded the ball more and was able to hold teammates accountable.”
Track and field head coach Kelly Fox said that as far as growth in athletics and individuality, she has never met many people that have faced the adversity that Sago has endured.
“She’s had a lot of stop signs and a lot of obstacles and she’s had to go backwards before she can move forward,” Coach Fox said. And just her attitude in general, she doesn’t let you know those things or let them bring her down. She works through them and works past them to move forward. That’s what she’s learned and she’s just matured so much in this whole process.
Coach Fox went on to say that at sectionals she expected Sago to qualify for the state championship in high jump and not triple jump.
“She didn’t have her best day at sectionals in high jump and so she didn’t qualify for it,” Coach Fox said. “But she went on to triple jump and had the best day of triple jump. But she didn’t hang her head from the high jump and she didn’t let that discourage her. She has learned that and that’s a maturity thing. But she’s learned that in the process, because otherwise, if she would have carried that over to triple jump, then she wouldn’t have made it at all, but she jumped her best at triple.”
Coach Dyer-Townsend believes that Sago’s volleyball legacy will be in partner blocking ability and her most impactful mark will be how amazing she was at building relationships with the younger players.
“Not many players will be able to top her game changing plays at the net that literally stopped the opponent’s momentum and gave us an edge mentality,” Coach Dyer-Townsend said “I’ll always remember those big plays at the net. And probably the most impactful mark Hannah leaves is the relationships she built with our younger players. Hannah is amazing with young athletes. She helped make our freshman class feel comfortable and like they belonged by going out of her way to get to know them and support them. Hannah was at everything single Freshman and JV game supporting and she also helped out with our Jr. High program. She has a loving heart and is able to make connections with young people so well. I am excited to bring our players, with whom she has formed those bonds with, to go watch some Millikin volleyball this Fall to support her now.”
Coach Fox believes that Sago’s track and field legacy will be that people will look at Sago and what she’s overcome to get to where she is. In Sago’s senior year alone she suffered an injury during basketball season and it was unknown whether she’d be able to compete in track. Instead Sago rehabilitated her injury and competed.
“So sometimes you have to put in the work on your own and it’s not something that she’s looking for with anybody to glorify,” Coach Fox said. “She’s getting it done because she wants to do it herself.”
Sago chose Millikin because she wanted to stay close to home and had a lot of family including her assistant coach in track and field who persuaded her decision.
“Coach Sabrina went to Millikin as well and she persuaded me to go there,” Sago said. “And when I met the track team and the volleyball team, they understood and were just like a team here and we felt close. I really enjoyed talking to them and I met all the coaches and it just seemed like it was right for me to go there.”
Sago’s volleyball goal for her freshman year is to have a chance of playing varsity and will work out all summer to convince her coach to give their playing time as a freshman. Her track and field goal is to continue to set personal records while helping other high jumpers and triple jumpers while getting help from them as well. Sago’s academic goal is to have a high GPA as she pursues a degree in Early Childhood Education on her way to being a second or third grade teacher in the area.
Coach Dyer-Townsend’s last words of advice are for Safo to set her mind to what she wants and put in the work while continuing to lead by making connections and rooting for others.
Coach Fox’s last words of advice are that Sago hasn’t peaked yet and the best is yet to come.
“I think that when she focuses on those individual events at that level, Millikin’s great,” Coach Fox said. “They’ve got those coaches, and those specific areas where we just have two coaches that roam and do what we can. The best is yet to come and she’s going to peak there.”
Sago will cherish the most and miss the most about her time as a Brave is all of her coaches.
“The coaches are definitely the one thing I’m always going to remember and stay close to and in contact with,” Sago said. They definitely have changed my life as a person and student athlete. And I definitely feel like the reason I’m here today is not only because of my dad, but because of my coaches, so I’ll always remember them.