HAMMOND — Once in awhile the road is easy.

More often than not, however, the path is filled with pot holes and fiery darts.

Obstacles with big feet looking to stomp on our dreams.

These thoughts were floating through the mind of Hammond Academy junior Hannah Heller on Sept. 8.

Her parents, Ron and Shari, were rushing her to the emergency room after Heller had crashed into a boy during a soccer match with the Hawks.

ACL or MCL tears were surely in her mind, so often an issue with female athletes.

"I was really concerned," Heller said. "I knew I had sectionals coming up and that's how I want to get into college."

Heller's story is remarkable and encouraging. She is one of six females who play on Hammond Academy's boys soccer team. The Hawks didn't have enough girls come out to have a girls team.

So they combined into one team.

One isn't always the loneliest number in high school sports. Heller is the only girl on HAST's girls golf team. Golf sectional she was what concerned about the most. And walking around Hammond on crutches for four days after the soccer "boo boo" didn't help the hope.

Heller played her last regular-season golf match at Lost Marsh walking from shot to shot on a crutch, protecting her wounded knee.

And even more amazing is this is Heller's first year of playing competitive golf.

"Yeah, it was difficult," she said. On a 1 to 10 pain scale it was an 8. I could not put any pressure on it. At the sectionals I wore a brace. It hurt but not until the round was over."

Last Friday at Palmira Golf Club, this wounded rookie competed by herself in the Lake Central Sectional, where some of the best teams in the Region are found, along with arguably the state's best golfer, Lake Central's Alexis Miestowski.

Heller shot a 101 and she advanced to Saturday's regional at Battle Ground Golf Club in Lafayette.

She is the first athlete at HAST to ever got out of a sectional and advance.

"I did not know until someone told me," she said. "Honestly, once I knew, I thought it was really cool."

Ron Heller coaches his daughter in boys soccer and golf. He and his wife knew they had something special when they took Hannah to the mall when she was 3.

"She has always had the drive to compete and do her best," Ron said. "She's always been real independent. When she was 3 she started walking off on her own at the mall. She never once looked back to see where we were.

"We knew then she would always be very independent."

For the last nine years, Hannah has also been dealing with a pre-diabetic condition, where she has low blood sugars as well as extreme highs.

But this strong-willed young lady handles this setback like anything else. She just forges onward.

"I drink a lot of water to deal with it," she said. "I have to watch what I eat. I take naps at school to even out my sugar. Everything in moderation. That's how I handle it.

"Sometimes my sugar goes real high and then drops real fast. I get a headache and I feel nauseous."

The stage at Palmira was big enough. The one she will walk onto on Saturday will be the Taj Mahal of Indiana high school girls golf. The best of the best will be there to see who has the game to advance to the state finals.

For this kid, however, just getting there says it all.

"I'm going to go out there with a positive mindset since I was lucky enough to get out of sectionals," she said. "This is my first year of competitive golf so I don't know what to expect.

"But I'm going to do my best and see what happens."

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.


Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.