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Volume 72, Issue 47, Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sports

Multi-talented athlete goes from court to field

Hannah hopes to be a motivator for youth

by LOURDES CASTILLO
The Daily Cougar

Rodney Hannah has spent most of his life playing basketball and football. Sports are one of the most important aspects in his life. But as an ambitious volunteer and aspiring musician he has developed a life off the field as well. 

Since an early age Hannah developed an interest in team sports. Thanks to his father°Øs job however, Hannah and his family have moved at least five times. Although it was easy for Hannah to fit in, he admits it was sometimes tough to find a secure group of friends and adjust to each new school.

°°Career-wise I think (moving) might have set me back a little bit,°± Hannah said. °°Moving a lot forces you to move into a new system and you never get to know a lot of your teammates and move up.

°°But I would develop relationships with people and after a while it would be time to go. No matter how good friends you are with that person when you are younger there comes a time when the phone calls and letters get less and less. I didn°Øt have like a best friend all throughout my life that I could just talk to.°±

Hannah started playing football when he was in fourth grade. Later in life basketball earned his attention, but as always, events and influences brought him back to the football field.

°°I missed playing football so I talked to coach Art Briles,°± Hannah said. °°I saw how the team performed well and I just thought it would be a great opportunity.°±

When he played basketball for UH two seasons ago it was one of the hardest times in his life, his grandmother had recently passed away. 

°°Coming into the basketball season it was really hard to focus,°± Hannah said. °°She was one of the main reasons why I played basketball. After the games I would talk to her; and then it was different because I would have no one to talk to. Of course I had my mom and my dad, but it wasn°Øt the same.

°°I tried carrying on with basketball but there was just something missing. I felt like if my heart wasn°Øt in basketball, then why continue? It wouldn°Øt be fair to the coaches and to me. 

Before Hannah°Øs grandmother passed away, she told him she would like for him to play football again, so he considered it.

°°(I) don°Øt regret it at all,°± Hannah said of returning to the field.

After college, Hannah has a few projects in mind. He hopes his sociology degree, minor in health and interest in education will help him fund youth charities. 

°°I want to start kind of like a Big Brother program,°± Hannah said. °°I would also like to be kind of a mentor.°±

Hannah first got interested in helping youth while living in California.

°°My high school coach actually puts on a basketball program that happens every summer for disadvantaged youth,°± Hannah said. °°I participate in that.°±

Hannah believes it°Øs important to start mentoring kids when they are young.

°°When kids are young they believe almost everything older people say, so starting at a younger age you kind of get a jumpstart on their behavior in the future,°± Hannah said. °°That°Øs what I like about it.°±

Hannah feels blessed that he had strong family support when he was younger and would like to help kids who are less fortunate. 

°°My mom and my father are still together so that°Øs a blessing,°± Hannah said. °±I guess the main thing was that a lot of my friends growing up °-- they had all the talent and intelligence to do what they wanted, but not the right guidance. 

When they get to a certain age it°Øs too late to tell them what to do because they get rebellious. I think that programs like that are very important for the youth just because -itÅ0Ç8s kind of clich®¶°™but they are our future.Å0É0

In addition to sports, Hannah has always been interested in music. He has learned to play the piano, trumpet, guitar and saxophone. Along with some of his friends back in California, he would like to start a record label company that will welcome all kinds of music.

°°Growing up I played a lot of instruments,°± Hannah said. °°Being a producer I think you should be able to work with anybody, from country to jazz to classical (music).°±

Hannah is unsure of where he will live after graduating in May. He would like to take his football career to he next level and play for the Raiders, Chargers or 49ers, but he is also considering staying in Texas.

°°I like the people and the environment,°± Hannah said. °°Plus, there are a couple of job opportunities that I have.°±

Hannah said some of the biggest misconceptions about football players are lack of intelligence and laziness. 

°°A lot of the time people think that athletes make good grades just because they are athletes and teachers let us slide,°± Hannah said. °°That°Øs not the case. When you are an athlete teachers keep a closer eye on you a lot of the time.°± 

Hannah°Øs advice to younger players is to not rely on the sport and to obtain a degree.

°°Be a student-athlete. Don°Øt be an athlete and then a student,°± Hannah said. °°A lot of people try to fall back on sports and put education in the back. But the most important thing is to get your education because you°Øre never promised another down or to come back into the game on the basketball court. 

°°Anything can happen in any second, you can break your leg and regret not following up on your studies. Education is so important nowadays and there is so much competition that if you don°Øt have a degree it is so much harder to be successful.°±

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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