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Rotuman Sports

9 June 2009

Hannah Bennett named Big Island Interscholastic Federation (BIIF) Player of the Year

Hannah Bennett, daughter of Harieta and John Bennett, has been voted the BIIF Player of the Year in water polo. Hannah moved to the big island of Hawai'i from Fiji three years ago to stay with her older sister, Kimberly, who played water polo for the University of Hawai'i prior to her graduation. Kimberly coaches the water polo team from a rival high school.

According to an article in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald published on 3 June:

Bennett played 2-meter defense, often guarding the other team's top player, scored occasionally on offense, but more importantly became the team's glue—not only for her solid play, but also her direction of others.

"She worked really hard to improve her game from the previous year,"Hilo coach Ron Koehler said. "She was our go-to player ande a quarterback of the team all year. She was a leader in the field, like a coach in the water.

"She was pretty consisten in scoring. She threw the ball more accurately with greater power and more importantly with greater confidence. It doesn't matter how hard you threow if you're throwing it right at the goalie.

"We didn't have a big superstar on the team. We needed someone to distribute the ball and get everyone involved. She set the tone for the whole team. We needed someone to control the action.

Then there's her size. Bennett is 5-feet-3 and faced opponents much bigger on defense.

"Two-meter defense is the most difficult position because you're trying to stop the other team's most powerful player close to the goal," Koehler said.

Stamina and the ability to swim fast and pester an offensive player like a pilot fish are good qualities to have. Bennett got better at all three, and also added toughness.

It's about being strong," she said. "I'm pretty small, but I think I'm pretty strong and it's about being able to swim fast. I did track and field, and swam. It helped a lot.

"Being in the water, it's all about swimming faster with technique. It definitely made me faster and got me into shape.

"I learned a lot about the game, but mostly we had a great team and it was about working together. We had a lot of seniors and worked hard. We really wanted to win the BIIF championship."

The [Hilo High] Vikings did. They beat Kamehameha-Hawaii 5-4 for the title. Then Bennett swam away with satisfaction.

"It was the most memorable season of my water polo career," she said. "We exceeded all my expectations and goals."

Hannah Bennett and Hilo High water polo team
Hannah Bennett celebrates with her teammates after winning the Big Island championship

Hannah graduated from Hilo High on 5 June with Cum Laude honors. She plans to play water polo at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California where she will major in marine science. She aspires to become a marine biologist.

Hannah's popularity goes well beyond her contributions to her high school water polo team. Last month she was named May Day Queen at the high school's May Day celebration.

Hannah Bennett family
Hannah (at left) as May Day Queen
Hannah at graduation ceremony with mother Harieta, sister Kimberly, and father John Bennett