True Grit - Tucson News Now

True Grit

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - The bruise below her right eye is more green than black. Which means it’s healing nicely.

“This is from getting hit in the face with someone’s head,” says Wildcat soccer’s Hannah Stevens.  “Which apparently is happening a lot.”

She lets out a light laugh. Funny now. Not so much funny then.

While facing Northern Illinois, Stevens went to head a ball and, instead, was headed herself.

“Right away my cheek got all big and puffy, “she says.  “I was really hoping I wouldn’t have a black eye because I had the one the week before.”

Maybe that’s the joke. Because the same thing happened not 7 days earlier thanks to a similar situation. The only difference? It happened to her left eye.

Two weeks. Two shiners. Neither of which managed to slow Stevens down.

The senior defender played through the four games, 296 minutes of the full 360. Played hard enough to score the match-winning goal against San Francisco, the only goal of the game. Which raised the question: where does one of Arizona’s toughest players get her grit?

“My parents never let me sit out of things just because I was sick.”

An easy explanation but perhaps it goes a little deeper.

Maybe Stevens’ grit comes from her genes.

Her mother Joyce grew up in the small Michigan peninsula town of Calumet. At the age of 18, she left the nest and drove by herself across the country and down to Dallas, Texas with no plan save for an awaiting sister.

“She just wanted to get away from the small town she was from,” says Stevens. “It was all she’d ever known.”

To leave behind all she ever knew for an unknown future? That takes courage.

Or maybe Stevens’ grit comes from somewhere within.

Perhaps it developed during those awkward high school years when a growth spurt took her from about average height to 6-feet tall.

“I was always so much taller than everybody and I always got comments on it. I still do. I’m trying to embrace it more.”

Acceptance in the face of anxiety? That takes courage.

Or maybe her grit comes from experience.

From being the third of four competitive siblings.

From never being allowed the easy win.

“Both my older siblings played soccer,” she says. “I would play against my older brother and my older sister.” She laughs at the memories. “They let me have it. My brother was so good. He would school me all the time.”

To fall down and continually get up? That takes courage.

Losing to her brother Cole and sister Kaytlin stoked her fire.

Learning how to turn her height into an asset became her advantage.

Leaning on her mother Joyce and father Ron gave her the confidence to not give in.

“I think the best thing with Hannah,” says Arizona head coach Tony Amato, “is she’s so dependable, so reliable. The fact that she’s tall? She utilizes that. She’s brave. I mean, she’ll battle and be tough and get in there.”

“My family has always encouraged me to not shrink,” says Stevens. “Try to have good posture and embrace it more than being afraid of it.”

Solid advice. Whether you’re playing on the pitch or beyond.

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