Former Otter still contributing during final year at IowaPublished 11:23am Monday, August 8, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2011-12 Iowa women’s basketball roster shows only four seniors, but a fifth member of the senior class is still around. She might not be listed on the roster, but her role on the team is just as important.
Hannah Draxten is spending her senior season as a student assistant coach for the Hawkeyes after chronic back problems forced the Fergus Falls, Minn., native to cut her career short.
Draxten played in 30 games as a freshman before playing in just four contests as a sophomore when the back problems escalated.
The medical staff discovered a herniated disc in Draxten’s back and surgery in the offseason after her sophomore year temporarily cured the problem. Draxten felt 100 percent heading into her third season in Iowa City, but more back pain sidelined Draxten and she was only able to play in 24 games.
At the end of her junior year, Draxten and the medical staff decided it was time to hang up the basketball shoes.
“It was definitely a hard decision,” Draxten said. “I grew up playing basketball and playing at a Division I school was a big goal. When it came time to say I was done playing, that was tough.”
Instead of giving up basketball completely for her senior season, Draxten is now serving as a student assistant coach. She will help the team in many different areas and travel with the team during the season.
“I’m really happy to still be involved with the team,” Draxten said. “I was really bummed when I decided not to play any longer. This gives me a chance to still be around my teammates and learn from our great coaching staff.”
Draxten isn’t interested in pursuing a career in coaching but is still learning valuable life lessons as a student assistant coach.
“This gives me a chance to see basketball from a different perspective,” Draxten said. “I’m learning a lot more about time management, especially from the coaching staff. When you are a player, you just show up and do the drills. Now I see how much planning it takes to put together a practice schedule. Things like time management and organization will definitely help me down the road.”
Another aspect that Draxten enjoys is being able to spend time around her teammates for one more season.
“You get to be pretty good friends with your teammates,” Draxten said. “It would have been hard to have that end a year early. I enjoy being around this team and can’t wait to spend another year with this group.”
Head coach Lisa Bluder mentioned numerous times last season that Draxten’s energy level and positive attitude was contagious. Draxten plans on bringing the same attitude to the court every day as a student assistant coach.
“I still need to be myself even though I’m not playing anymore,” Draxten said. “It’s fun to be out there yelling and encouraging. I’m a pretty positive person so I like to bring that with me to practice.”
Draxten has her first chance to try out her student coaching skills this week, as the women’s team prepares for its trip to Europe, scheduled for Aug. 8-20.
“It’s been pretty different,” Draxten said. “But I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s given me a different perspective on basketball.”
Even though Draxten misses playing, there is one thing she doesn’t mind watching from the sidelines.
“Wind sprints,” Draxten said. “I really don’t miss those at all.”