Hankoff settles on UC-Santa Barbara | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hankoff settles on UC-Santa Barbara

Steve Yingling

When you really know what you want, why wait?

With the national volleyball signing date six months away, Adrian Hankoff could have spent her senior year at South Tahoe High on the phone with a different college coach every night and suffered more paper cuts from opening mail than a post officer worker.

Instead, Hankoff ended the area’s biggest recruiting saga since California wooed former Viking basketball star Jerod Haase to Berkeley. The 16-year-old Hankoff is going to be a Gaucho, as in UC Santa Barbara.

All that it really took to convince Hankoff to accept the athletic scholarship to the perennial top-10 volleyball program was a trip to the campus last month.

“I think I knew I was going to Santa Barbara when the whole recruiting process started,” said the 1997 Northern Nevada League Most Valuable Player who has verbally committed to the Gauchos. “Why wait and drag it out? This way I know where I’m going and I can talk with my coach and have her tell me things to make me better and make my team better.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Santa Barbara. I love the ocean and I really liked Santa Barbara when I went down there. I like the way volleyball team coach (Kathy Gregory) coaches and the players are very nice.”

Under NCAA rules Gregory isn’t permitted to comment about Hankoff until she actually signs in February. But she tells Hankoff plenty.

“She lets me know where I stand with her team, telling me what I need to work on. In her eyes I pretty much need to work on everything,” Hankoff said.

Gregory was never worried about losing Hankoff to another school, according to the spiker’s father.

“They were trying to get her to commit two months ago when she was at a Santa Barbara volleyball camp, but we still made Kathy come up here for a home visit two weeks ago,” said Gary Hankoff. “She was telling people Adrian had committed before she committed. When we heard from the Arizona coach, the coach said, ‘I heard Adrian has committed.’ Kathy had already called him and the decision wasn’t official.”

Other universities actively pursuing Hankoff were Nevada, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon, Georgetown and Arkansas.

Because Nevada athletes don’t receive much exposure during their high school careers, Hankoff took matters into her own hands.

“I wasn’t going to sit there and let people come to me. We got books on college recruiting and I started writing letters to colleges I was interested in a couple of years ago. They’d send back forms to fill out, I’d e-mail them and my (Golden Trail) club coach Sharon Hardy started talking to them.

“This has been one of my goals – to get a college scholarship – since I started playing volleyball, and I’m happy.”

Even though Hankoff was flattered by the intense recruiting, she and her family became weary of the attention July 1 when coaches were permitted to recruit over the phone.

“It was a good experience to meet and talk with college coaches. But it was getting to the point that it wasn’t fun anymore. I was getting letters from schools I had never heard of,” Hankoff said.

“When I got a letter I could usually tell (before opening it) if it was a form letter. Usually when you get a handwritten letter you feel special, but one time I got a handwritten letter from Georgia Tech and a hand-written letter saying the same thing that was intended for another girl was stuck to it. It was more amusing than anything.”

Added Gary Hankoff, “Adrian broke her foot two months ago and didn’t find out until after playing (well) in junior nationals. When coaches heard that, then the callers really started to go nuts. The recruiting process isn’t fun when it lasts as long as it did. When you have to sit face to face with people you’re not interested in talking to, it’s grueling.”

Her broken left foot shouldn’t keep her from taking the court with her Viking teammates this fall.

“She’s out of the cast and she started playing a little on the grass (Wednesday),” Gary Hankoff said.

“It shouldn’t be any problem,” Adrian said.

Besides, Adrian and three other seniors who started when they were freshmen – Alicia Lambert, Melissa Maxwell and Sadie Sadrian – have some unfinished business.

“Last year, we probably should have won state, but I think we got a little burned out by the end of the season. We just wanted to make state,” Hankoff said.

“My biggest goal this year is to win state. I don’t care if I win MVP of Northern Nevada, winning state has been my goal since I started high school.”

She won’t have to wait long. Tryouts are today from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the South Tahoe High gold gym.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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