By Megan Fontenot
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
An old adage states that ‘sports build character,’ but for Texas Volleyball senior Hannah Allison, character may have built her talents as one of the nation’s top setters.
As the youngest of John and Kelly Allison’s two daughters, Hannah learned at an early age the importance of generosity and compassion. When she began playing volleyball at the age of 12, those same qualities that were cornerstones in the Allison home immediately translated into her position as setter.
“I enjoy helping others. As a setter, I help others to play the best way they know how to play. That is my biggest job, to make sure that all your hitters are in the best spot that they can be in to play their best,” Allison explained.
During her high school campaign, Allison led Siloam Springs to four-consecutive Arkansas 5A State Championships (2006-09) and a record of 132-10. For her efforts, she was twice honored as the Gatorade Arkansas Volleyball Player of the Year and was PrepVolleyball.com’s No. 9 overall player as a graduating senior in the class of 2010.
Texas volleyball associate head coach and recruiting director Salima Rockwell agrees that Allison’s play on the court coupled with her unselfish attitude set her apart from other potential student-athletes on the recruiting trail.
“She loves it when someone else gets a kill,” said Rockwell. “When I am recruiting setters, I like to see those that are more excited that someone else gets a kill than when they themselves block a ball.”
For Rockwell – a three-time All-America setter at Penn State and the starting setter for the USA National Team in 1997 and 1998 - Allison’s ability to cheer for her teammates’ success only enhances her contributions as a setter.
“She enjoys making people around her better. For her, it is natural. For a setter, that’s just the way it is - you run the offense while quietly making the team better, but you get to enjoy doing that. She takes pride in that. Making other people around you better is invaluable,” Rockwell added.
Last season, Allison was named to the 2012 NCAA All-Tournament and NCAA Austin All-Regional Teams as the starting setter for Texas’ run to the 2012 NCAA Championship. She guided the Longhorns to a .360 hitting percentage in the NCAA Championship matches against Michigan and Oregon. This season, Allison became just the eighth player in Texas history to eclipse the 3,000 career assists mark and she currently ranks No. 8 in the Longhorns’ record book with 3,193.
According to Rockwell, Allison’s attitude towards setting is a reflection of her personality off the court as well.
“She likes to take care of people, help others and make people around her - even outside the gym - better,” said Rockwell. “She has been raised with good values. She has a huge heart, so any chance she gets to do something for someone else, she jumps at it.”
In a moment of self-assessment, Allison echoed Rockwell’s description of her.
“A lot of it has to do with having a big heart and my compassion for my teammates and everyone around me. Setting and volunteering both require a servant’s heart and attitude of improving whatever environment you are put in. Both are fulfilling to me because I love to serve others,” Allison concluded.
Rockwell, who also serves as the liaison between Texas student services and the team’s community services, is a witness to Allison’s commitment to helping others.
“Usually when I send an email for community service participants she is the first to say, “I am in, I will do it.”
To Allison, volunteering is a direct reflection of her willingness to make the environment around her the best that it can be. During her career at Texas, she has devoted most of her free time to the cause through involvement in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
“Over these last four years, my time management has gotten better and I’m in a good position to give back even more now because this is my senior year and I have things figured out schedule-wise. With the extra time I’ve managed to find, I don’t want to be selfish with it. It would be selfish of me not to give back to the community that has continuously supported our university,” Allison said.
While Allison holds all of her service opportunities in high regard, she describes GENaustin as her favorite.
“GENaustin is an after school program for at-risk middle school girls in Austin. I went there to talk to the girls about college, having sports as a career and how to manage sports and school. I remember myself at that age, so it was rewarding to encourage them to know that you can be smart and good at sports, too,” explained Allison.
In addition to her responsibilities both on and off the court, Allison still finds time to serve as the president of Horns 4 Horns, a social media organization created by Texas’ SAAC to connect all student-athletes on the Forty Acres.
“It was a great opportunity to use our social media networks to get the word out about the community service opportunities we have as student-athletes in addition to our athletics competitions,” said Allison. “The information is more easily accessible now, and it is a great way to lead others to volunteer.”
Leave it to Hannah Allison – a natural giver in every sense - to find ways to make even social media a better place for everyone.