PCHS goalie commits to Hawaii
Hopefully PCHS senior Hannah Gardner didn’t think road trips to play soccer down in Roosevelt at Union High School were too long during her career with the Miners. Next year, she’ll be in for much longer trips as she suits up for the University of Hawaii.
Gardner played for two years at Park City after moving from Chicago her junior year. Next year, she’ll move even farther west to play for the Rainbow Wahine.
"I was making a decision and I thought it was a good opportunity," she said during her signing day event at PCHS last Wednesday. "The coach had good things to say and I had a good opportunity to play my underclassmen years. It’s a good environment."
Moving from the big city of Chicago to a small town in Utah made it harder for Gardner to stay on the radar of Division I schools, but she said she’s thrilled she was able to accomplish her biggest goal.
"It’s really exciting," she said. "I’ve worked for it for years. Since I was little, I’ve dreamed of playing Division I soccer, so it’s a big accomplishment."
She said it was tough leaving Chicago, but she’s happy to have had the chance to play for Coach Chip Cook and the Park City squad.
"The soccer out here wasn’t as good and I had to deal with a lot of hardships throughout it, but I really like being a goalie," she said. "[Moving to Utah] made me become a better player. I really felt senior year I came in and had a big impact on the team."
Building a winning program in Hawaii will be a tough task, as the Rainbow Wahine finished 3-14-1 overall and 0-8 in the Big West Conference last season. Those long road trips to the continental U.S. took a big toll on the team as well, as Hawaii was 3-6-1 at home and 0-8 on the road last year.
Despite the team’s recent struggles, Gardner sees good things in Hawaii’s future.
"They’re going to be a developing program, which is good coming in as a goalie," she said. "They’re a strong program with good coaching."
The teams to beat are going to be UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton, who, along with Long Beach State, tied atop the Big West standings last year.
When she arrives on campus in the fall, Gardner said she’s excited that she’ll already know people at the new school.
"I’m excited to go to school and already have friends in place," she said. "Playing on a team of 28 girls, you already have friends. I’m looking forward to starting a new life and being a student-athlete."
She’s not yet sure what she’ll major in, but she said she’s leaning toward kinesiology at the moment. No matter what she picks, she joked that she’ll have plenty of time to do her schoolwork on the long flights to away games.
"I’ll probably get a lot of homework done," she said. "We’ll miss a lot of school, but we’ll have a lot of chances to get work done."
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.