UT Volleyball Star Hannah Allison

A normal superhuman

Hannah Allison
Hannah Allison (Photo courtesy of UT)

When I think of the label "college athlete," I'm immediately intimidated; I imagine them as some sort of superhuman who can leap tall goal posts in a single bound and bruise you with the flick of a finger.

Which is why, on my drive to Gregory Gymnasium last week, all I thought was "I'm about to meet a record holding, Big 12 Conference playing, UT athlete. This is awesome and terrifying!"

However, after meeting Hannah Allison, the latter is nowhere near true.

The lead setter for UT's women's volleyball team, Allison is an Arkansas girl who came to Texas for love. And no, it's not what you're thinking; it was for love of the university itself.

"There's nothing you can find anywhere else that tops what you can find at Texas," she says. "Academics, athletics, the family atmosphere they have. I just fell in love with it."

This love post-dates another, though: volleyball. Allison began playing at the age of 12, following in the footsteps of her older sister and competing in local club teams. Even though she was raised in a basketball family, volleyball ultimately became her passion. It's this passion (and undeniable skill), which has made Allison the 11th player in Texas history to have more than 2,000 career assists, a statistic that will help propel her foreword.

"It's motivation to keep pursuing goals and be the best not only in Texas but in general."

She also made it clear that she attributes a lot of this success to the ability of her fellow teammates.

"You don't get an assist if no one gets a kill." She says this with the authority you’d imagine a superhuman having. "Every statistic has more than one dimension to it. Hitters wouldn't get all these kills without the sets they get. Everything is relative and so we depend on each other to be really good as a whole."

Another huge influencing factor for Allison is one every athlete should look to, the fans. And UT fans … well, they can be hard to please. Texans in general are tough and Longhorn fanatics are not only that, but also high-bar-setter's.

"They are expecting a win every time," Allison says of the crowd, not bitterly or disparagingly, rather with appreciation.

"It's an expectation not many programs get to have when their fans expect to win. It's fun because they want the best out of you as fans but at the same time they are completely supportive."

As a civilian, that kind of expectation would cripple me with anxiety. But remember, this is a college athlete, superhuman, I was talking to and her response to pressure is different.

"Yeah, it's pressure, but it's a good pressure. We're all here because we want other teams to want to beat us."

As far as winning is concerned, Allison takes it game by game. She's one of the only players you'll find in the locker room not listening to music before a match; it distracts her too much. Her focus needs to be thought driven. She creates her own zone by visualizing positive outcomes and imagining only good happening. It's a free-spirited look on competition and a trait that makes perfect sense when aligned with another she has, a love of bare feet.

"I'm from Arkansas so it does not help anything," she laughs (with no trace of an accent). "But I don't care. I'm from Arkansas and I love being barefoot!"

It's not just an Arkansas thing, though.

"We're athletes so we always have on tennis shoes and when you don't, you feel so free!"

Allison is currently a junior, so expect more great things to come as her and her teammates assist, set, and kill it over the next year. And don't feel bad expecting such a lofty goal as "great"; it is, after all, what keeps her going.

UT hosts the Baylor Bears at Gregory Gym next Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7pm. For more on UT volleyball and tickets, click here.

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Hannah Allison, Texas volleyball, Gregory Gymnasium, Baylor volleyball, volleyball

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