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A year with ASU women's basketball yielded strong friendships and a bright future for Sara Hattis

Hattis, a graduate transfer, hopes to become the "next Holly Rowe" after her experiences at ASU

Sara Hattis

"Sara Hatti - No. 44 ASU Women’s Basketball team."

Photo by Josh Orcutt. Illustration published March 16, 2017. 

The first pair of shoes Sara Hattis ever owned were Nike Air Jordans.

That pair of shoes quickly found its way to basketball courts and volleyball courts, as the 6-foot-4 center – originally from Chicago – eventually made her name as a three-sport high school athlete at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

After earning all-state honors in basketball and volleyball, Hattis spent the next four years playing both of those sports at the University of Texas. When her time in Austin wrapped up, she used a year of post-graduate eligibility she had earned via a freshman-year redshirt to play at ASU and pursue a master’s degree in sports journalism.

Throughout that roller coaster ride, which lasted for the better part of a decade, one thing became clear about Hattis: Sports are basically her life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s always been a part of my life,” Hattis said. “I don’t know, I just don’t see myself in any other world.”

Coming to Arizona with the hope of becomingthe next Holly Rowe,” Hattis quickly found her calling in sports journalism through the various opportunities offered to her by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I love the opportunities that I’m getting here, especially with my education and my school at Walter Cronkite,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity that I’ve been able to take advantage of, and the coaches have been super supportive of that, which has been great.”

As someone who’s been covered by dozens of reporters over her lengthy career in high school and college sports, Hattis is starting to see – and thoroughly enjoy – the other side of the coin.

“I covered a hockey story last semester, I did do some deadline stories for high school basketball, and it was different on the other side,” Hattis said. “I didn’t realize all of what goes into getting a story in two hours after the buzzer goes off. It’s a different perspective, which is really cool, but it’s something I’m learning.”

Aside from what she’s accomplished off the court in order to kick-start her future after graduation, Hattis has experienced a new team atmosphere as a Sun Devil.

Entering the season as one of six newcomers – the other five were all freshmen and almost all guards – Hattis quickly developed relationships with her new teammates on their trip to Costa Rica during the summer break.

It was at that point that several lasting relationships were developed within a team that ended up needing that kind of togetherness in order to push through and up-and-down, adversity-laden season.

“Towards the last few days (of the trip), we had a good chance to spend time just goofing off, hanging by the pool and by the beach,” Hattis said. “I really got to know these girls on a deeper level than just on the court and I loved it.”

As the season unfolded, two of those friendships – one with a player and one with an assistant coach – became the most special to Hattis.

“I have made a special relationship with our assistant coach Jackie Moore,” she said. “She’s always instilled a confidence in me, she’s always in my ear, and she’s also helping me off the court …"

Hattis said Moore has helped her set up her career after basketball through her contacts at ESPN.

“Teammate wise, freshman Sydney Goodson,” Hattis said. “She’s like a little sister to me. I kind of took her under my wing pretty early and we’ve been friends ever since.”

It was her head coach, however, who attested to the kind of leadership and experience Hattis brought to the team in just one season as a Sun Devil.

“Sara just instantly is such a gregarious, likeable, outgoing young lady,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “She sets a great example, comes everyday, great attitude, just really outside of herself working hard. Her impact on this team has gone beyond the stat sheet … she really did help us a lot.”

Hattis’ final year as a college student-athlete has been quite unique, both in regards to her own career and the years of her fellow seniors – forwards Quinn Dornstauder, Kelsey Moos and Sophie Brunner – who have been together since 2013.

The trio of seniors that added Hattis this season has been a part of one of the best stretches of ASU women’s basketball, and are bound for their fourth NCAA tournament in as many years.

Now for the four of them, they know full well that any of their remaining games could be their last, as Moos attested.

“Having that win-or-go-home mentality is definitely huge,” Moos said. “We just have to get really, really hungry and aggressive, and just go out and play every possession and every game like it could be our last.”

For Hattis, though, while the next game could be her last on the court, there’s a bright future ahead on the sidelines thanks to the experiences she’s had in just one short year at ASU.

“I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what’s next,” Hattis said. “I would ideally hope to have my foot in the door at a major sports network either interning or full-time, whatever it takes to get my feet going and get my career on the right track."

Reach the reporter at or follow @Jeff_Griffith21 on Twitter.

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