Hankoff pounds out respect
It’s time for Adrian Hankoff to move on to college.
Considering all the volleyball awards she’s garnered and the recruiting letters she’s received, it’s either move out or get a bigger room.
A two-time Northern Nevada Player of the Year, Hankoff will be headed to Pullman, Wash., where she is getting a full-ride athletic scholarship to Washington State University.
While her decision last February to attend WSU may have stopped the letters that for a while averaged 10 a day, the honors keep coming. Add Tahoe Daily Tribune’s Female Athlete of the Year at South Tahoe High to the collection.
Hankoff has been a standout since she first walked on campus. As a freshman, she was the only state qualifier from the swim team, and was an all-league volleyball player. That’s when she set her goal at getting a scholarship.
A competitive swimmer since the fourth grade, Hankoff decided on which sport to specialize after trying out for the Placerville Gold Trail club volleyball team.
“I knew I could play with those girls,” Hankoff recalled.
Tahoe volleyball coaches recognized her talent, too.
“She was in seventh grade and right away we knew she was special,” said Danny McGlaughlin. “She was very strong. I am sure the swimming helped her develop broad shoulders. But her greatest strength is her mental approach.”
Over the last four years Hankoff has played for the elite club, which provided her exposure to college coaches from across the country. She still takes the journey down U.S. Highway 50 for Gold Trail practices, and she is looking forward to the Junior (Under-18) Nationals on the Fourth of July in New Orleans. One month later she will begin life as a college athlete.
Hankoff is the first South Tahoe student to earn a Division I full-ride scholarship since basketball players Brian Bruso (San Diego) and Jerod Haase (California) in 1992. Jennifer White received a volleyball scholarship at University of Nevada, Reno in 1990.
Hankoff appears surprised by notoriety she receives.
“I never considered myself a Jerod Haase,” she said. “I’m just Adrian. There’s nothing special about me.”
However, at the age of 17, the 5-foot-10 Hankoff has the physical and mental makeup of a big-time athlete, and she carries herself as such.
A fierce outside hitter, Hankoff is a dominant force on the court. Her reputation spread across the state, and her name will probably always ring a bell for a certain Winnemucca player.
During a road match, an official called time, but Hankoff did not hear the whistle. With the boys soccer team in attendance, Hankoff spiked the ball, delivering a solid “six-pack” to an unsuspecting opponent, smacking her in the head and dropping her to her knees.
Hankoff’s chief rival and best friend says she is an intimidator, but one with class.
“She’s easy going,” said Kaycee Green, a senior at Douglas High. “She doesn’t worry about a lot of things. She’s very self-confident, but not arrogant. She’s knows she’s very good, but she still knows she has to improve. I respect her more than anything.”
Hankoff and Green have been competing against each other since they were in seventh grade.
Their greatest highs and lows have come in Douglas-South Tahoe battles.
During Hankoff’s junior year, the Vikings were in the driver’s seat at zone. They only had to beat Douglas in one of two matches to win the championship. But beating the powerful Tigers is no easy task.
“When we lost, it was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me,” said Hankoff, who still agonized over the loss.
Revenge came during her senior year when she had a new coach: Her dad, Gary.
The Vikings lost both matches to Douglas during the regular season. But in zone Hankoff’s team prevailed.
“Hankoff beat them almost by herself,” McLaughlin said. “She was phenomenal.”
Douglas, however, had the stronger overall team. The Tigers topped STHS at state and went on to win the Nevada championship.
Green, who was named the most valuable player at the state tourney, nevertheless, praised Hankoff.
“For the last two years, Adrian has by far been the best athlete and volleyball player in all of Nevada,” she said.
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