Hannah Deterding is one of the hidden stories within the University of Illinois volleyball team.
As a college freshman, the former All-Area setter from Monticello played regularly for Eastern Illinois University, finishing with 685 assists. It wasn't a good fit, so she transferred to Illinois Central College, in East Peoria, as a sophomore. She handed out more than 700 assists that year as ICC won the Division II national junior college championship.
Rather than accept a scholarship offer to continue her career in the spotlight, Deterding enrolled at Illinois and joined the Illini program as a walkon. Her contributions don't show up in the statistical summaries. She has played in one match, starting the Illini's regular-season home finale against Iowa last month.
And yet, she is a part of the reason the Illini will play Saturday for the NCAA championship. Coaches, at any level, will tell you that a team is only as good as the individuals they practice against, the squad members who push the regulars to achieve even greater heights.
In an era where athletes at some schools quit their teams even though they are starters, what does it say about the selfless actions and attitudes of a person who understands the bigger picture and is proud to be part of something greater than herself? There are any number of colleges where Deterding could be playing and earning the recognition that comes with the court time.
Instead, she has willingly sacrificed her personal glory for the greater good of the team. In my book, Deterding is a winner. On Saturday, she has the chance to become a two-time champion.