ead silence. That’s what greeted Hannah Hyatt the first time she visited Boston.
“It was odd at first. We came into the city and it was a Friday night and not a single person was outside,” Hyatt said. “And my Mom and I were kind of walking around and thinking should we be inside or outside?”
Say what you will about Boston, but one thing is for certain. It’s never quiet. Walk around the city on any given day and there’s a cascade of sounds that will hit you, from cars honking to people yelling. Of course, the first time Hyatt visited—which doubled as her recruiting visit to Boston College—was definitely not any given day.
Hyatt and her mother, Margaret, landed in Boston on April 19, 2013, four days after the tragic and infamous Boston Marathon bombings. At the time of their flight, the terrorists behind the attack still hadn’t been taken into custody, and the two were faced with a decision.
“It was surreal. I remember the morning before our flight, [asking] do we go?” Margaret recalled.
Go they did, and after wandering through a noiseless city for a while, the two found an open restaurant with a television and began to eat dinner. It was during that very meal that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—the surviving bomber—was found hiding in a boat, and both Margaret and Hyatt will never forget what happened next.
“We were at dinner and we were all watching the TV, the bomber being found in the boat and all that,” Hyatt remembered. “Everyone after that just immediately flooded the streets, getting together, rallying,”
“It was like the Celtics had just won,” Margaret said. “We walked out of the pub, and cars just immediately started flooding the streets and the city became alive. Literally within maybe two hours the city was just buzzing again, and it was so cool to be part of that. I mean we were just little outsiders from Park City, Utah.”
What could have been a deterrent turned into one of the reasons Hyatt eventually chose BC. The resilience, togetherness, passion, and grit the city showed in the face of tragedy resonated with her just as much, or even more, than a campus visit could.
“Every single event I went to that weekend, there was an extra oomph to it,” Hyatt said. “Everyone was together, everyone was fighting together, and it kind of translated to what I pictured myself doing there.”
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t’s fitting that Hyatt chose BC too, because in many ways she embodies that Boston spirit with her play on the lacrosse field. Ask anyone who has watched her play, and words like gritty and tenacious are the first descriptors that come to mind. Take a look at a photo taken by her mother Margaret in a 2018 regular season matchup against North Carolina, and it’s easy to see why people describe her as such.
In the photo, the senior is attempting to beat a Tar Heels attacker to a ground ball that is heading out of bounds. It’s a standard race that takes place many times a game. What wasn’t standard in this case, though, was the length Hyatt was willing to go to to win back possession. Instead of conceding the footrace, the senior left her feet, willing to sacrifice her body in order to give her team momentum, diving in front of the UNC player and flying parallel to the turf in a manner reminiscent of Superman.
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yatt’s accomplishments and play likely won’t be documented in multitudes of comic book series. Even when observers talk about Boston College lacrosse, the first things that likely come to mind are the absurd offensive numbers put up by an attack led by reigning Tewaaraton Award-winner Sam Apuzzo, Kenzie Kent, Dempsey Arsenault, and Co. All the attention given to teammates doesn’t seem to bother Hyatt, though, who is quick to praise her fellow players for just about everything, from helping her practice faceguarding to helping her acclimate to the City of Boston when she arrived four years ago. And while the attention is focused on others, the senior is happy to focus on being the same gritty, competitive, and selfless player that has excelled everywhere she’s been, from Utah to Boston.
Park City, Utah—a town with a population of 8,378 about an hour away from Salt Lake City—is much more well known for its spectacular ski slopes than producing lacrosse stars. Even so, the year Hyatt moved there with her family at age 9, her mother, who played the sport just one year at the club level in college, encouraged her to try it, and Hyatt eagerly joined the only club team in the entire state.
It didn’t take long for her to begin to love the sport, and although she kept playing basketball and soccer as well,in middle school she realized that she could see herself playing lacrosse in college.
“It just kind of clicked with me,” she recalled. “They always say lacrosse is a perfect blend of a bunch of different sports, so those helped me, but I think it was just a better fit personally for me, and I just had a lot more fun being outside and not being stuck in a gym.”
Fortunately for Hyatt, it was only a matter of time before she was in the perfect spot to be noticed by a number of college programs. At a tournament in San Diego in eighth grade, Hyatt took the field against the Pacific Falcons—a club team based in California—and drew the attention of the opposing coach, Joe Brown.
Immediately impressed by her awareness, competitiveness and unselfish nature on the field, he invited her to travel with his team to a tournament in Florida, where she was seen by coaches from Division I schools, including Northwestern and BC. Despite playing far outside of the traditional lacrosse hotbed on the east coast, Hyatt had made it onto the radar of some college powerhouses, thanks to a chance encounter with Brown.
“We owe a lot to him,” Margaret stated. “He grabbed her and took her under his wing and got her in the places she needed to be seen that changed her life.”
Indeed, it was that tournament in Florida that eventually earned her the opportunity to take the recruiting visit to Chestnut Hill that could have been marred by the marathon bombing.
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lash forward two years, though, and after being convinced to join the Eagles by that visit Hyatt found herself a member of a historic recruiting class—one that includes Apuzzo, Arsenault, Elizabeth Miller, and Lauren Daly. Those players are now all key cogs of a team that would go on to record back-to-back national championship appearances in a town much bigger than Park City. It could have been a tough transition for a self-proclaimed mountain girl at heart, but luckily for Hyatt, she had teammate mentors, such as the recently graduated Tess Chandler—who was dubbed the “mom” of the team—to ease the change.
Her transition on the field was just as smooth. On a team with so much talent, the level of competition is expected to be taken up a notch, and for Hyatt, that was apparent from the first day.
“Day one we had a scrimmage. It was just an intrasquad scrimmage first practice out there in the fall, and everyone just was like balls-to-the-wall going hard every ball,” Hyatt commented. “So right then and there I was like wow this is a lot different than Utah play.”
Much like the small town to city transition, it could have been overwhelming, but thanks to her tenacity she quickly found a role as a faceguarding specialist—a player who is tasked with stopping the most dangerous opposition attacker from getting the ball. It’s a position that allows Hyatt’s grittiness and competitive nature to shine, but, even though she considers it one of her strengths, she’s quick to once again to be the consummate teammate.
“Again, the reason why I can be so gritty and so good at faceguarding is because of those other girls out on the field that are being just as gritty back,” she says. “Being fortunate enough to have those types of players to better your own game is something really special.”
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alk to those who have coached or mentored her in the past, and they’ll also mention how Hyatt is the perfect teammate.
“She does so much for her team, and I knew that she could do that with our group. I knew that her energy, her positive spirit would just shine through,” Brown said unprompted, thinking back to when he first saw her play.
“She is selfless, I think she prefers the assist and the steal more than she would ever prefer scoring,” Margaret mentioned.
That love for her team shines through again in Hyatt’s favorite Park City High School lacrosse memory. Park City played in the State Championship all four years of Hyatt’s high school career, losing in her freshman and sophomore year before breaking through junior and senior year to capture the title. The State Championship Hyatt’s senior year was particularly dramatic. With 18 seconds left in the game, Park City trailed, 11-10, to Brighton but won a draw control to get the final scoring opportunity of the game.
The Miners were able to earn a free-position shot, and Taylor Hekking—the opposing goalkeeper—deflected the resulting effort onto the ground with her stick. The chance seemed to be wasted, until the rebound bounced straight to Hyatt, who stuck the ball in the net just before time expired. Park City went on to win in overtime, 13-12, thanks in large part to what seemed like a lucky bounce to Hyatt, but in reality it was anything but.
Hekking was actually Hyatt’s teammate on Brown’s Pacific Falcons, and Hyatt knew, according to Margaret, that Hekking would often make a save but fail to corral the ball, leading to a rebound opportunity. So sure enough, Hekking made the initial save, but the ball slipped out. Using some quick thinking, Hyatt capitalized, leading to a moment that many athletes dream of: A buzzer beater in a championship game.
Hyatt doesn’t talk about that when asked about her high school lacrosse experience, though. She prefers to talk about dancing, before the game started.
Before each of her high school games, in order to get loose, the team would split off into pairs and one partner would pick a random dance move to do. The other partner would mirror that move and they would dance along for 30 yards or so.
The dancing, funnily enough, has continued at BC.
“We’re always dancing on this team. Before the locker room, before we leave main campus, once we get to Newton campus,” she said. “You know sometimes you’ll see a few of us out during warm up pull a little dance move and it kind of reaffirms that we’re ok we’re having fun, this is just a game.”
The Eagles, of course, will be hoping that more than dancing carries over from Hyatt’s high school experience. After all, Park City found a way to finally capture a championship after consecutive stumbles at the final hurdle—the very same thing BC is trying to do in 2019. To do so, they’ll need every bit of Hyatt’s tenacity, intelligence, and yes, grit.
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hen Hyatt was in middle school, her mother coached her in basketball, and at the end of the year gave everyone on the team—including her—animal spirit nicknames. Hyatt was nicknamed coyote because, as Margaret recalls, “She would just stalk in the background and go for the steal when you didn’t think anybody was around you.”
Hyatt may have moved to the lacrosse field, but she still stalks in the background, letting the Eagles attackers rack up goal after goal while focusing on all the other things that make a winning lacrosse team, like diving for ground balls to regain possession and momentum.
“Winning games doesn’t always have to be the best player or the best shot. It’s sometimes those in between the lines, those gritty plays, those little moments where the smallest thing could give your team momentum,” she said.
As BC attempts to finally end a season on top, it’s a good thing they have someone who relishes doing just that, employing the trademark Boston grit that was on such prominent display the first time Hyatt stepped foot in the city.
Featured Image and Graphic by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor
Images by Margaret Hyatt and Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff