Hagglund A Star On And Off The Court
by Maiah Hollander
Jenna Hagglund is no stranger to keeping things in the air. A star athlete, full-time student, and a charity volunteer, Jenna has juggled them all with astounding finesse.
Random chance led Hagglund, senior setter for the Washington Huskies, to volleyball, as the junior high school she attended didn't have a soccer team like she wanted.
"I wanted to be the next Mia Hamm," Hagglund said. "Volleyball was the next best thing."
Luckily, she was a natural.
After getting involved with club volleyball in the eighth grade, Hagglund pursued the sport with gusto. Having to essentially learn the game from scratch, Hagglund pushed herself to be the best she could be, claiming that being able to learn was the best experience she ever had in volleyball.
And those experiences in turn became accomplishments that just kept accumulating throughout Hagglund's high school career.
As a four-year letter winner at Lakota High School in West Chester, Ohio, Hagglund led her team to two league championships, was named Cincinnati Player of the Year, earned first team all-state awards and notched a bevy of other honors.
Hagglund had garnered more than enough experience and awards to get noticed on a last minute elite club tournament in Las Vegas. It was here that Washington assistant coaches Leslie Gabriel and Keno Gandara found their future star.
"I knew I really liked this girl," said Leslie. "Some people have hands like heaven when they touch the ball, it's just beautiful."
Not one week later, Hagglund and her father, Stu, were on their way to Seattle for an official visit to Washington's campus. And on that visit, Hagglund became the first recruit to commit on her visit in head coach Jim McLaughlin's 17 years of coaching.
"When I was scouted by UW I knew that it was the best environment for me to become the best player I could be," said Hagglund. "I knew it would lead me to having a good life and be a balanced person."
Hagglund's balancing act is truly one for the books.
As a starter on the UW volleyball team for four years, she has earned numerous awards, and is a two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American, earning third-team honors in 2008 and 2009, and is currently ranked 19th nationally with 11.30 assists per set after ranking second in the NCAA as a sophomore with 12.17.
"Jenna is one of the hardest workers I've ever known," said McLaughlin. "She is a true student of the game."
Hagglund's role as a student doesn't stop on the court.
As a Business Administration (Marketing) major, Hagglund boasts a 3.53 GPA and is currently one of ten finalists across the nation for the Lowe's Senior Class Award.
This prestigious award is presented each year to an outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete across nine different sports. The award focuses on four areas of the athletes nominated for the award: community classroom, character and competition.
In light of these four requirements, it isn't surprising that Hagglund was nominated.
"Jenna never does things halfway," said Jenna's mother, Susan Hagglund. "She always gives it her all to be the best she is capable of."
Not only has Hagglund accomplished great academic success as a senior, she is also a two-time honoree on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII team, earning first-team honors in 2008 and second-team honors in 2009.
"She has always been disciplined, and was good at time management even as a little girl," said Susan. "Knowing her, she probably wants to do more."
Mother knows best, because Hagglund's juggling game doesn't end there.
In what little free time she has, Hagglund has also found time to volunteer with fellow teammates at both Seattle Children's Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House. She and other teammates saw other UW teams getting involved and decided to take up the cause.
"These girls are in a position to make an impact," said McLaughlin. "They can be good role models, especially when kids are sick."
Hagglund and her fellow teammates made their plans a reality.
"There is more to life than just volleyball," said Hagglund. "And as much as I love it, at the end of the day it's just a game."
When asked what her most memorable moment volunteering was, Hagglund went on to tell of a visit with a young cancer patient. The girl was quiet at first, but soon found common ground in Grey's Anatomy and Glee made the interaction between them all that much more personal.
These little connections are what really matter to Hagglund.
"Just because she was sick didn't mean that she was giving up," said Hagglund. "She was still living her life."
On and off the court, Hagglund has proven again and again her determination and commitment to excellence.
"Her ability to completely commit to the game surprised me the most," McLaughlin said. "I believe Jenna is still growing as an athlete, but she still makes the effort to develop a relationship with all of the girls and I think she has done that."
Between her schoolwork, Division-I athlete status, and volunteer work, Jenna has proven herself to be a class act.
"Her ability to swallow her pride and make changes, to trust us is what impressed me the most," said Gabriel. "I am very proud of what she has been able to overcome. It wasn't easy."