Relieved Hankoff signs with WSU
She wore a Washington State University sweatshirt, a pair of jeans and an infectious smile. She was flanked by her mother, father, sister and South Tahoe Athletic Director Frank Kovac as she sat at a desk on the halfcourt line of the Vikings’ Blue Gym. A pen emerged and found its way into her hand. She directed her gaze toward a stack of papers with “Sign Here” labels affixed to several pages. Federal Express envelopes awaited nearby with postage in tow.
And at 12:39 p.m. Wednesday, give or take a few minutes, STHS standout Adrian Hankoff ended one of the most active and storied recruiting sagas in school history when she signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball for the Cougars next season.
“I am so excited, just because now I know everything is official,” said Hankoff, who led the Vikings to third in the NIAA state 4A volleyball tournament in mid-November. “I’m going to school. I’m getting to play volleyball for a great program. This is exactly what I wanted.
This is a huge weight off my shoulders – it’s finally done. That’s one of the toughest parts of the recruiting process: wondering where you’re going to go and then actually choosing the school.”
WSU competes in the ultra-competitive Pacific-10 conference and has fielded a consistent top 10 volleyball program in years past. Injuries to key performers in 1998 knocked the Cougars out of the polls, but not enough for Hankoff to bat her eyes at the program.
“My visit there was awesome,” said Hankoff of the Pullman, Wash., state university. “The coaches, a husband-and-wife team, are some of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to playing for them.”
The Cougars were not Hankoff’s initial choice, however. The senior, who also competes on a Placerville club team, originally signed with UC-Santa Barbara in late August. She later amicably retracted her verbal commitment with the Gauchos program and decided to take a more patient approach to the often confusing process. Though heavily pursued by Oregon, Nevada and Washington State, Hankoff took her time and eventually selected the Cougars.
“At first, I wasn’t so sure that Pullman was for me,” said Hankoff of her official campus visit. “But I got up there and just fell in love with it. It’s the perfect little college town and the atmosphere of the school is perfect.”
Gary Hankoff, Adrian’s father and coach for one season at South Tahoe, played the parts of parent and instructor on his daughter’s special day.
“A coach is lot like a parent in many ways. Either way, I’m very proud of her,” said Hankoff, who finished last season with a 22-14 record. “As a coach, I hope she’s the first of many more Division I volleyball players from South Tahoe. I’m hoping that she’ll set an example for the other kids from this area.”
Hankoff’s recruiting exploits remind many observers of STHS basketball icon Jerod Haase, who played at California for one season before transferring to Kansas in 1993. Hankoff, her modesty seeming to belie the talent that made her the envy of Division I volleyball schools, shrugged off such comparisons.
“It’s kind of weird that I’ve been compared to Jerod Haase because of how heavily recruited I was,” she said. “But that’s a totally different comparison. I don’t put myself in that company really.”
She probably should, though.
“Adrian is the best volleyball player to come out of South Tahoe High School,” her father said. “But I don’t think she’ll be the best ever.”
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