Hillary Hanno never expected to go to Northwestern College, play volleyball or major in elementary education. Now, she is a senior outside hitter for the Red Raiders and was named honorable mention All-American in 2008 and second-team All-American in 2009. She plans to graduate this spring with a degree in elementary education with reading and coaching endorsements.
Hanno began playing volleyball for a city league in third grade mainly because everyone else was playing. “My extended family played soccer,” said Hanno. “My mom played basketball. My family is athletic but nobody played volleyball.”
Hanno actually committed to playing soccer at another college until her high school coach pushed her into looking at NW.
“My parents are actually Briar Cliff alumni so we’d go to all the Briar Cliff games,” Hanno said. “I honestly didn’t know anything about NW.”
“It was definitely a God thing. I can’t even describe it; it just happened.” Hanno’s high school coach played volleyball at NW and thought the school would be a great fit for Hillary. She kept promoting the idea and even called Coach Van Den Bosch to have him come watch a few games. After that, everything seemed to fall into place.
“I love volleyball and it’s kind of what got me here. I looked at the program first and liked it a lot and liked Coach a lot. Then I started looking at the education program after that and realized this was where I wanted to be,” said Hanno.
“I was kind of always considering education in the back of my mind, but once again I would say it’s a God thing. When I looked at the education program and talked with Dr. Juffer, I realized this is it. This is what I want to do. Now I love it!”
Hanno says her college experience has taught her how to trust in major ways. “I’ve learned to trust God and not to worry. To trust God, trust myself and trust my teammates.”
“I wouldn’t have ever expected my life to pan out like this, to go this direction. Looking back in high school, I never would have thought I would be here.”
When Hanno finishes her senior year in the spring, she hopes to get a teaching job and coach volleyball wherever she is lead.