The 2017 Women’s Little 500 ITT champion wasn’t even supposed to come to IU.
During her four years at Bloomington High School North, senior Brooke Hannon lit up the volleyball court. She lived, breathed and absolutely loved volleyball.
By the time her senior year rolled around, she was regarded as one of the top setters in the nation and had received Division I offers from four schools — IU, Ohio State, Florida State and Duke.
Her grandpa is good friends with Mike Krzyzewski, the head men’s basketball coach at Duke. When Krzyzewski heard Duke had offered Hannon a scholarship to come play volleyball, he immediately called her to let her know that he wanted her there.
That moment sparked Hannon’s interest in Duke, and shortly thereafter she signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball for the Blue Devils.
Everything was going great for Hannon. She was nearing the end of her high school days and was eager to embark on her collegiate career. After committing to Duke, she had even begun flying out to Durham, North Carolina, to practice with the team.
Then in May, just weeks before her graduation, Hannon received a letter in the mail. It was from Duke University.
The letter notified Hannon that she had not been accepted into the university because her score on the math section of the SAT was too low. She was speechless.
“I was shocked,” Hannon said. “Duke was the only school I had applied to because that’s where I committed. I had nowhere else to go.”
Luckily for Hannon, her mom had applied to various other schools for her without her knowing. The list included the three other schools from which she had received a scholarship offer and other smaller schools.
Unfortunately, the three schools that had recruited her had already filled their available scholarships and had no more to offer.
Hannon had a choice to make: she could either go to one of the larger schools and try to walk on the volleyball team or she could play at a smaller school on scholarship.
For Hannon, the decision didn’t take very long.
“I wouldn’t have been able to win a national championship at any of the smaller schools,” Hannon said. “So I chose IU.”
When Hannon arrived at IU her freshman year, she contacted Sherry Dunbar-Kruzan, the head women’s volleyball coach. Hannon had already met Dunbar-Kruzan from high school recruiting, and the coach agreed to allow Hannon to practice with and try out for the team.
During her first day of practice, Hannon dominated the court, so much so that Dunbar-Kruzan came up to her afterwards and told her she was the best setter the team had. Despite the positive remarks, Hannon told the coach she would not be coming to practice again.
The other players, seemingly annoyed by the presence of an outsider, had treated her poorly. Hannon said she knew it was not an organization she wanted to be part of.
Later her freshman year, Hannon moved into the Christian Student Fellowship building.
While walking through the building one day, she found a road bicycle in one of the rooms and decided to try riding it. Soon after, she began going on road rides and later joined the CSF Little 500 team.
Now a senior, Hannon has competed in two Little 500 races for CSF, in 2015 and 2016. This year, however, she has chosen not to participate. This makes her eligible to ride for another team next year in her fifth and final year.
Because of an ideology clash with coaches, Hannon moved teams and joined Melanzana. Despite not riding in this year’s race, she competed for the team in some of its spring series events. Even after posting the fastest women’s time in the individual time trials, she says that’s not enough.
Next year her goals include breaking the women’s ITTs record, setting the women’s team pursuit record and winning the Little 500 race. Hannon said if she’s able to achieve those goals, it will only happen with the help of her team. To Hannon, all success derives from a team effort.
“I don’t want it to be about me,” Hannon said. “If we win it, we will win it as a team.”
Even though she won’t be riding on race day, Hannon said she will still be right by her teammates and coaches, eager and ready to help her team in any way possible.
“I’ll be at the track doing whatever they need me to do, whether that’s filling up water bottles, running to Jimmy John’s or whatever,” Hannon said.
In addition to her personal and team goals, Hannon said she wants to help the Little 500 community improve and expand.
She said this year there were about 10 to 15 teams that trained intensely and showed up at the track on a consistent basis.
Next year, she said she wants that number to be much higher. As a member of Rider’s Council, a body of riders who strive to better the Little 500 community, she will have the opportunity to do just that.
“My top goals are to get a full women’s field and to amp up the culture,” Hannon said. “Next year I really want to leave the Little 500 just having made a difference.”
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