Tue, Apr 17 2012 05:10 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
When he signed a national letter of intent to attend Seton Hill University last November, Otay Ranch senior Franz Hahn cemented his celebrity status as the wunderkind of Metro Conference boys lacrosse.
As part of the financial package to attend the western Pennsylvania school (located 35 miles from Pittsburgh), Hahn will receive a $16,000 partial athletic scholarship with additional aid from academic scholarships and grants increasing the total to $20,500.
The figures are renewable, with $100,000 likely coming in aid over a four-year period.
The amount is believed to be the highest athletic scholarship awarded to any Sweetwater district lacrosse player to date.
Hahn thus becomes the sport’s newest poster boy, and it’s a title he holds highly.
“I do feel the pressure but I feel I am the kind of person who can deal with pressure,” he said. “If there’s a set standard, I feel I can match it.”
Seton Hill competes at the NCAA Division II level and over the past five years has ranked among the top 10 schools in its division in terms of strength of schedule. The Griffins moved up to No. 7 in the USILA Division II Coaches Poll following an 11-10 victory over previously fourth-ranked CW Post on Feb. 25.
“I’m hoping to play as much as I can — I’m not expecting to red shirt,” Hahn said. “I want to perform as well as I can and see where I fit in as a freshman.”
The Griffins’ program is growing. Seton Hill returns all but two players from its 2011 team that finished 7-7, including eight of its top nine scorers and all but one defenseman.
Hahn chose the East Coast Conference school after making a recruiting trip there last year.
“I really liked Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania,” he said. “The campus was really beautiful. The entire coaching staff and all the players were very welcoming. I kept getting all these little signals that this was the place for me.”
Hahn is positive his upcoming experience at Seton Hill will be life-shaping.
“Being a student-athlete in college, I’m hoping my athletic training and the education I get will instill in me some of the qualities such as leadership and discipline that will help make me successful later in life.”
Like many current players, lacrosse was not the first sport of choice for Hahn. “I played baseball until I was 13,” he said. “A friend’s older brother played lacrosse for Otay Ranch and it was then, at the end of the seventh grade (at Rancho del Rey Middle School), that I got involved. Playing in middle school, I fell in love with it there.”
Hahn maintains a healthy love affair with several sports, actually. He played youth football from the time he was 8 until his freshman year at ORHS. He played water polo his sophomore and junior years for the Mustangs. Only an injury prevented him from returning to the pool last fall.
Hahn is one of three seniors on this year’s Otay Ranch team who will be closing out four-year varsity careers. Joining him are Robby Sills and Ryan DeLeon.
Hahn has made consistency the hallmark of his game. As a freshman, he scored 28 goals, 34 assists and won 39 ground balls. As a sophomore, he scored 36 goals, dished out 56 assists and won 52 ground balls.
His junior year, during which he played part way with an injury, he racked up 56 goals, 29 assists and 68 ground balls en route to securing first team all-conference and Metro Player of the Year honors.
Otay Ranch coach Doug Murphy has the highest praise for Hahn.
“Franz is the second hardest-working player I’ve ever coached and it’s a close second,” Murphy said. “The hardest-working player I’ve coached is Adrian Van Vleck from Eastlake who went on to play community college lacrosse near Syracuse in New York.
“Franz hits like a man and can beat you with his speed. His work ethic, however, is what makes him such a great player. He and Adrian Van Vleck were cut from the same mold.
“Adrian had an injury to his scapula (shoulder) his senior year. Doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to play but he came back, just like Franz is doing. They work harder than anyone you’ve ever met. They’re self-starters.”
Hahn broke his left wrist in December 2008 while playing youth football, and tore cartilage and ligaments in the same wrist (triangular fibrocartilage complex) in March 2011. He had surgery to repair the damage last August.
It was through this that doctors discovered that Hahn’s left ulna bone (forearm) was 5 mm longer than his radius bone. During the TFCC repair, surgeons also shortened his left ulna by cutting the bone in half, removing 5mm, then placing a stainless steel plate and seven screws to shore up the two bone segments.
Doctors believe the original football injury caused damage to the growth plate in the wrist area, resulting in the longer than normal ulna.
The doctor who performed the surgery is Dr. Reid Abrams, who performed the same TFCC repair procedure on former Padre Adrian Gonzalez when the former Eastlake baseball standout was in the minor leagues.
Due to the lack of blood flow in the wrist area, Hahn was advised this type of injury could take from seven months to one year to completely heal.
He resumed playing with the Mustangs on March 21. It has taken him three weeks to get back into the groove he had previously established; he scored seven goals in a 15-5 victory against visiting Mar Vista on April 12.
He said his return to the field couldn’t have come soon enough.
“It’s been weird because I’ve played sports continuously since I was 3 and now I’ve been overwhelmed with all this time to myself,” he said. “So I’ve been watching a lot of tape to improve my lacrosse IQ.”
Hahn delayed surgery to compete in an East Coast showcase tournament last summer — the USA Top 205 Rising Seniors Showcase in Towson, Md.
It was among a number of showcase tournaments in which he has competed since taking up lacrosse. The summer following his freshman year, he played in a tournament at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The summer after his sophomore year, he competed in the Bluechip 225 Showcase at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
Hahn drew recruiting interest from a number of colleges, including Marquette University, Queens of North Carolina, Florida Southern College, Colorado College, Notre Dame de Namur, Rochester Institute of Technology, Whittier College, Dowling University, Eastern University and others.
Ironically, most of the recruiting interest was drawn from a YouTube video filmed and edited by Hahn’s father Frank that helped highlight his son’s skills, speed, superior athleticism and work ethic along with positive feedback from Coronado LaxDawgs club coaches Dan Meehan and Alex Cade, plus Murphy.
The LaxDawgs are the top-ranked club team west of the Rockies; Murphy has won five Metro Conference championship titles.
“Franz’s father sent that YouTube video out and got instant response,” the ORHS coach said. “Even the coaches who did not see him play at the East Coast showcase tournaments were impressed by what they saw on the video.”
Murphy said it was impossible to fake true heart and determination by manipulative editing.
Franz Hahn said his work ethic is grounded in self-discipline. “I want to prove to myself that if I set my goal to something that I can do it,” he said. “It’s true that practice and hard work do result in success. I’m confident I will be successful in college if I maintain the same work ethic that I have in the past.”
The standard has obviously been set.
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