Arizona has often been considered a second-home for Chicago natives; a considerable number of people hailing from the Windy City end up in the Valley of the Sun.
Sara Hattis is one of those people, and like most of them, she’s a passionate – and currently, elated – Chicago Cubs fan.
“I am a huge Cubs fan,” she said with a laugh. “Super, super happy with how everything went this year for the World Series, go Cubbies.”
The path she took to the Phoenix metro area, however, wasn’t exactly the one most Chicagoans follow.
Hattis, who was born in Chicago and played her high school ball in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, recently transferred from the University of Texas to ASU to play women’s basketball.
After graduating from Texas with her degree in physical culture & sports, the 6-foot-4 forward decided to pursue a graduate degree in sports journalism from ASU’s acclaimed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
According to Hattis, the academic program in which she was given the opportunity to study, combined with a stellar women’s basketball team, was too much to pass up.
“It was a dual decision between what was going to be beneficial for me with my future and academics, and also what fit me for a basketball program,” she said. “When I came on my visit and looked at Cronkite, it’s hard to beat a program and a school like Walter Cronkite. That was really, really appealing to me.”
As the fall semester is almost at its end, Hattis has been able to adapt to life in Tempe, somewhat similarly to the way a freshman would and ASU’s five freshman currently are.
Hattis attributes what has been a smooth adjustment to her teammates, and the upperclassmen in particular, whose welcoming nature has played a large role in the transition to life at ASU.
“(My teammates) have been really helpful, especially the upperclassmen,” she said. “They know all about the city of Tempe, what it’s like at ASU, what to expect. I’m not only speaking for myself, but I’m also speaking for the freshmen, they’ve been really helpful with us in adjusting.”
In coming to play for ASU, Hattis left not one, but two strong athletic programs behind upon transferring from Texas – she also played for the Longhorns’ women’s volleyball team, which made three consecutive during her career and won a national title when she was a freshman – as well as a sport she loves.
Admittedly, she misses the game of volleyball but is excited about the opportunities she has at ASU in the game of basketball.
“There are days I miss volleyball, I love volleyball,” she said. “I wouldn’t have chosen to play college volleyball if I didn’t love it and enjoy the sport. There are definitely days where I wish I could go back and play one more year, but that would be tough bouncing back and forth.
One of those opportunities is to join a trio of Sun Devil seniors that has been together in the program since for three years – Sophie Brunner, Quinn Dornstauder and Kelsey Moos – not to mention a talented top-to-bottom roster.
Brunner, ASU’s returning leading scorer, believes her new fellow senior is not only a welcomed addition on the court, but has made herself at home off the court as well within the fabric of the team as a whole.
“She’s fitting in well, she brings size, which we need, and she brings a great personality,” Brunner said. “She’s a very positive person, so just having an extra person on our team who’s positive and can bring enjoyment to the game is something that we’re thankful for.”
Her contributions on the court don’t go unnoticed by head coach Charli Turner Thorne, who raved about having another experienced senior and another talented forward on her deep roster and recently added Hattis to the women's hoops leadership team.
And you can bet that will only continue to grow as Hattis develops in the ASU program and begins impacting the Sun Devils to her fullest potential.
"She's so much of who we are," Turner Thorne said. "Super positive, always comes focused and energized, she's just an experienced elite athlete. She's such a great example."
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