ORRVILLE'S HANNAH PLYBON FINISHES STELLAR BASKETBALL CAREER AT AKRON
Orrville native Hannah Plybon recently completed four solid years as a starting guard on the University of Akron Women's basketball team. Although she helped lead the Zips to the program's first ever NCAA tournament and two NIT bids during he college days, she didn't turn her full attention to basketball until her junior year in high school.
“Up until my sophomore year of high school, I wasn't sure if I was going to play volleyball or basketball in college,” Plybon admitted. “My sister played Division I volleyball at Austin Peay, and I was a setter when I played with her in high school. Once she left, that's when I focused on basketball and really worked on it.”
Plybon's work ethic earned her four selections to the Division III All Ohio team in high school, and three of those were first team nods. Plybon helped Orrville coach Mark Alberts lead the Red Riders to the state final four with a 26-3 record in her senior season in 2013, and those efforts earned her Division III Player of the Year honors. Akron coach Jodi Kest, who was on the verge of the greatest season in the history of the program, tabbed Plybon to continue her playing career with the Zips.
Saying that Plybon has made the most of her opportunity at the college level is probably the understatement of the century, particularly when it comes to academics. Having already completed her undergraduate degree in Speech Therapy and a masters in Exercise Physiology, the sharp shooting guard is halfway through her MBA in Health Care Management. She's hoping to become a graduate assistant, which would allow her to complete three tuition free degrees in a five year period. Plybon was one of three Zips to earn All Mid American conference Academic honors this season,posting a 3.58 GPA.
“Growing up my parents taught us so much,” Plybon said. They didn't harp on us, but working hard was a big thing in our household. I took a lot of college classes in high school, and from then on it was like a game for me. It's really just the mentality of working hard for something that you want. Unfortunately I work a lot harder on the court than I do in the classroom. Yes it's competitive, but if I have a bad test I'm not going to be as upset as I would if I have a bad game.”
A poor performance in a college game was a rare sight for Plybon, who routinely gave opposing coaches and players headaches when preparing to play the Zips. She was named to the All MAC freshman team while averaging seven points per game during her rookie season. That year featured a 13 game winning streak for Akron, which captured the MAC tournament title and the program's first ever NCAA tournament bid.
“We had a great season in my senior year of high school,” Plybon said. “Winning that MAC tournament and starting as a freshman, I was in the moment but I didn't really realize what was happening until my sophomore or junior year. Winning that MAC Championship was huge, and I was just really fortunate to be a part of that team.”
Akron continued its winning ways by posting consecutive NIT bids the next two campaigns before losing a solid senior class. Plybon was one of just three seniors on Kest's young squad during the 2016-17 season. Although often competitive, the Zips lost their final 11 contests. Akron finished a humbling 9-21 overall and 2-16 in conference action. Six MAC teams advanced to postseason play. Toledo won the league's NCAA bid, while Kent State, Central Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo and Ohio University all played in this season's NIT
“Going from winning the MAC to this year not being the bast in the MAC, it was just frustrating,” Plybon said. “We worked so hard and we did extra work. We tried different strategies to win and nothing seemed to be working, so it was upsetting and disappointing. I do not like losing, so this was more of a teaching year and about getting over that hump. I still enjoyed it, and I would not have taken this year back. I love the team right now, and it was still an awesome and memorable senior year.
“Having the opportunity to play (in college) and get free tuition for doing something I love means a lot. Looking back on it, what sticks out is the team and the friendships I made over the four years that will last a lifetime. Any high school girl who loves basketball would love to have the opportunity that I was given.”