At 4 years old, junior Hannah Scharf stepped on the mat for the very first time, trying flips and tricks for her own amusement. Little did she know that 15 years later, she would be competing at one of the highest levels of gymnastics.
While gymnastics may have started as just a hobby, Scharf quickly realized as she got older that she could take her game to extreme heights.
“As I started to get older, I just loved how difficult the sport was,” Scharf said. “It taught me to be very motivated and self disciplined. So I think as I got older, my love for it kind of changed into something a little bit more serious.”
Being from Barrie, Ontario, Scharf had dreams as a young girl to compete for Gymnastics Canada in the Olympics. However, once Scharf hit 15 years old, her mindset shifted and she felt competing at the collegiate level would be a better option for her.
After an impressive high school career at Innisdale Secondary School that included competing at the 2018 Canadian Championships and the 2019 Canada Winter Games, Scharf had a difficult decision to make about her collegiate future.
The stress of the college process was short lived. As soon as she stepped foot on ASU's Tempe campus, Scharf knew it would be the right place for her.
“When I visited Arizona, I felt very at home,” Scharf said. “I love the environment. I love the weather. It just really felt like home and that was something really important to me.”
It was not all sunshine and roses for Scharf upon arriving for her freshman year. Not only did it take her time to adjust to the new environment, but competing at the collegiate level was a completely different animal than what she was used to. However, it did not take long for Scharf to get accustomed to collegiate gymnastics, and right from her first meet of the season, the Sun Devils were off and running.
Scharf was outstanding in her freshman year, winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, three vault titles and one all-around title. From her first year, all the Sun Devil coaches and players knew Scharf was a special gymnast who could help the team for years to come.
“She's just the whole package,” co-head coach Jessica Santos said. “She's got great skills on all her events. She's a great leader for us. So I just think she's the whole package of an elite athlete. I think that just is kind of what sets her apart.”
Going into her sophomore season, Scharf only got better as she competed in all-around at every meet throughout the season.
She was named a WCGA Regular Season Second Team All-American and an All-Pac-12 first team member in the all-around. She also earned a spot to compete in the 2021 NCAA championships where she received All-American second team honors on bars for scoring a 9.8875 and tied for seventh place.
“Hannah is always the kind of person that will give 100% to anything that she is really interested in,” Scharf's mother Mary MacFarland said. “She works very, very hard, is super committed and she has a competitive spirit about her which truly, I think, makes her a really good gymnast. She really enjoys competition and she enjoys that aspect of putting on performance as well.”
People close to her know Scharf’s skills on the mat but say it's her kind and charismatic personality off the mat that defines her as a person.
“She is just hilarious,” said fellow Sun Devil gymnast and Scharf’s roommate, junior Gracie Reeves. “She always knows how to make me laugh, and she's just very supportive and kind. She knows how to pick you up when you're feeling down. She is just a great person and a great friend.”
After two years at ASU, Scharf has been able to make tremendous strides as an athlete, and now as an upperclassman, she has taken a leadership role on the team, after the departure of Cairo Leonard-Baker.
Through the sport of gymnastics, Scharf has been able to build a family at ASU and bonds that will last a lifetime.
“I love ASU with all my heart,” Scharf said. “I love my team. I love my coaches. I would not want to be anywhere else in the world.”