Basketball, soccer star looking to take play to the next level
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — It takes many years of hard work and dedication to get to the level of play RCS athlete Hannah VanDerzee has reached.
But all that hard work is paying off.
VanDerzee, a senior at RCS High School, joined an elite trio of female basketball players at a December varsity game when she scored the 1,000th point of her career and college recruiters are sitting up and taking notice of her talents.
She may have made history locally by joining an elite group of athletes, but her reach is extending far beyond the halls of RCS.
VanDerzee, who has been playing basketball and soccer since second grade, has taken her show on the road, traveling around the country and showcasing her skills, and recruiters have spotted her athletic prowess.
While she doesn’t know what college she will attend, VanDerzee has already had offers from Division 2 and Division 3 schools to play at the collegiate level.
Locally, VanDerzee made school history Dec. 19 when she joined just two other female RCS Indians by scoring her 1,000th career point in varsity play.
The game was paused for a few moments after she reached the milestone and VanDerzee was awarded the game ball in recognition of her accomplishment.
“The team and coaching staff would like to extend Hannah a huge congratulations for reaching the milestone of scoring 1,000 career points,” Head Coach Jacquelin Hotaling said. “Even more special is the fact that she is only the third girl in RCS history to accomplish this amazing achievement!”
VanDerzee has been playing under Hotaling’s tutelage since second grade. And while VanDerzee has been so accomplished on the basketball court, it isn’t even her only — or first — sport.
“Basketball was not my main sport when I started — I just did it for fun,” VanDerzee said. “[My teammate] Sara Hotaling actually got me into it. I started when I was in second or third grade, and Sara and I have been playing together ever since and her mom was our coach.”
VanDerzee’s first sport was soccer, a sport she continues to play at RCS to this day. She was also on an AAU travel soccer team.
She plays forward on the basketball court, and has traveled the country competing with an AAU travel team.
“This past summer I traveled to Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey – it was a big thing and so much fun,” VanDerzee said.
Getting to the level of play that VanDerzee has reached doesn’t come easily and entails a great deal of work away from the cheering crowds that root for her and her team.
“At school we practice every day of the week and for the travel team we practice four days a week, we have extra workouts and during the summer we play pick-up,” she said. “I spend 90% of the time in the gym or on a court.”
VanDerzee joined RCS’s varsity basketball team in eighth grade and has been on the team for the past five years. Her career points have been accumulating since she started varsity.
Hotaling, her coach, said reaching 1,000 career points is a long journey.
“A player does not reach the level of Hannah’s caliber overnight,” Hotaling said. “It takes years of dedication to the sport and countless hours in the gym. We are grateful that Hannah brings her talent and leadership to our team at RCS.”
Only two other female players have reached 1,000 career points — Kayla Hotaling, who achieved the milestone in 2013, and Robin Mortensen Reed in 1979. Hotaling, who is presently a counselor at RCS Middle School, made a total of 1,052 points over her varsity career and Reed ended her career with about 1,600 points, according to the RCS district.
VanDerzee’s skills on the basketball court have caught the eye of several college recruiters.
“I have a few offers and I’ve been accepted to a few schools to play basketball, and at some I would play soccer and basketball,” she said. “I haven’t decided where I’ll go yet, but I’m definitely planning to play at the next level.”
While she has not heard back yet from all of her prospective colleges, VanDerzee has already been offered spots as a recruited athlete at SUNY New Paltz and Alfred, both Division 3 teams, and at Division 2 Niagara University.
She hopes sports will continue to be a major focus for her as she forges her future.
“I’m going to major in early education and minor in coaching, so hopefully I will get a teaching or coaching job when I finish school,” VanDerzee said.
Over the years, VanDerzee said she has learned from her coaches and her teammates.
“I looked up to the girls above me and I had some amazing coaches and teammates that I’ve played with since eighth grade,” she said. “I looked up to them and just watched what they have done. I’ve put the extra work in and trusted my teammates, and they all helped me get here.”