As seen in the Nov. 26 issue
Danny Licht, editor-in-chief
The summer before her freshman year, senior Liat Hackman started to train for volleyball, and she hated it. She asked coach Marla Weiss if she could quit. Weiss convinced her to stick with it for two more weeks, and she did. And for the next four seasons, too. Last week, four seasons later, she signed with Georgia Southern University, where she will receive a full scholarship to play volleyball.
While he was coaching at George Mason University, GSU coach Dustin Wood saw Hackman at a Las Vegas tournament. That night he emailed her to offer her a scholarship to George Mason, but the school didn’t really attract her.
“I wasn’t into the school but I was into him as a coach,” she said. “He constantly invested in me as an athlete from the very first time he laid his eyes on me as an athlete.”
Since that first encounter, Wood moved to Georgia Southern, a Division I school, and continued to approach Hackman. Georgia Southern was a more interesting option for her, she said, because it was the highest-ranked school that was interested in her.
“I have been watching Liat for the past two years, and there is a huge upside in her development,” Wood said in a Georgia Southern Athletics release. “She will bring size to our outside position and help our program get to the next level. She has great footwork, which will help her to develop quicker. She brings energy and passion to the game, and her leadership qualities are second to none. Her high-school, club and USA Volleyball international experience will serve her well in her tenure here at Georgia Southern, and we are excited to add Liat to our program.”
Georgia Southern is in Statesboro, Ga., population 30,000. It’s an hour outside Savannah, where the nearest airport is. Its population density is 1,812.9 people per square mile. For reference, Beverly Hills’s is 5,973.1. Its median household income is around $19,000, as compared with Beverly Hills’s, which is around $70,000. The places, as one might imagine, are very different, and Hackman welcomes the change.
“I’m used to my hometown, the very JAP-y Beverly Hills,” she said. “Some of the things I loved most about the school were the team and how close they were, how much athletes are praised at the school, the school spirit, the location and campus, and definitely the southern hospitality.”
In September, when she arrived for her official visit, she was “treated like royalty.” The school paid for her and her dad’s flights, transportation, meals and hotel rooms.
She said, “I got to stay with the freshmen so I saw how they lived and what their daily schedule was like….The girls took me out at night and showed me what nightlife was like around campus.”
On the trip she attended a football game, got a tour around campus and met with the athlete tutors, to which each athlete is assigned and must meet at least six hours per week.
To younger athletes, she offers this advice: “If you have a passion for something, do it and don’t hold back. We only have so much time in high school to figure ourselves out and do something that we truly love.”