Gary headed to California

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Hannah Gary was rewarded for her academic and athletic reputation when she signed a national letter of intent Tuesday to play volleyball for the University of California at San Diego next fall.

Gary joins an incoming class of five and will be the only non-Californian woman on the Tritons roster.

"I'm excited that there will be more people like me who want to play," Gary said. "It will be a lot of fun."

UCSD is a Division II school. It doesn't award athletic scholarships because of its academic reputation. Gary said the fact she will be joining a team of women focused on excellence in athletics and academics is a positive.

Traditionally, a prospective student must receive at least a 1200 on his or her SAT to be accepted at UCSD. Gary, a 4.0 student, was concerned she would not get in after receiving an 1160, but she retook the test and scored a 1210.

In addition to being an academically renowned institution, UCSD also has an accomplished volleyball program under the direction of coach Duncan McFarland. The Tritons went 26-5 last season as a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association and appeared in the Division II National Semifinals as recently as 2001.

Meeting McFarland and the players was a big part of her decision to attend UCSD, Gary said. Last summer, Gary attended at camp at the La Jolla, Calif., school and informed McFarland of her desire to become a Triton. Her wish was realized Tuesday.

Gary is the fifth Sailor in two years to go on to play collegiate volleyball, but unlike some of the teammates who preceded her, Gary is relatively new to the sport. She did not play volleyball in middle school and didn't really come into her own until her junior year, Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said.

"You started to see some progress in her hitting in Hannah's junior year," Hall said. "During the summer before her junior year, I told her she needed to focus on the back row. ... She said OK and put her nose to the grindstone and did it."

Gary's parents, Sam and Val Gary, were in attendance when their oldest daughter signed her letter of intent Tuesday. They said it will be difficult to pack up the car and drive their daughter to San Diego later this summer, but they agreed that the school and Gary are a perfect fit.

Gary will receive her summer workout shortly, she said, and is to report to practice Aug. 8.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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