Faulkner leaves mark on field hockey program


Forward Hannah Faulkner anticipates the ball at the game against the University of Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2014

Ricky Salcer

Long before Kent State senior Hannah Faulkner decided to attend Kent State University, she was a competitive child who developed an early love of sports. 

Hannah, a native of Edwardsville, Illinois, grew up playing sports and looking up to a few of her relatives who would eventually influence her decision to keep competing in college.

Her uncle Jarret Hillebrand played ice hockey all through high school, and her aunt Casey Hillebrand played field hockey. Both would turn out to be major influences on the sport with which she would soon fall in love. 

Given her relatives’ athletic background and experience, Hannah decided she wanted to give field hockey a try. 

“I looked up to them very much, and I decided I wanted to play,” Hannah said. “That’s when I decided to do my first camp in fourth grade.” 

Hannah attended a YMCA field hockey camp and thoroughly enjoyed it. As middle school rapidly approached, her family had a tough decision to make because field hockey would not be offered at her grade school, St. Boniface, located in Edwardsville. Hannah’s family decided attending a school where field hockey was offered would be ideal for her. That school would be Liberty Middle School, where she continued to play field hockey. 

As described by her mother Jennifer Faulkner, Hannah acquired a passion for competition. 

“Hannah was a spunky, little bitty thing who was very loving but also a very competitive child,” Jennifer said. “Her athleticism, dedication and determination stood out in all sports starting at about age five.”

Hannah’s competitive nature would eventually set her apart from the competition as she got older. She continued playing throughout grade school and eventually went on to play at Edwardsville High School, where she caught the attention of many college coaches.

She was not only a standout in field hockey, but a major contributor to her high school track team. 

During the spring of Hannah’s freshman year, her parents allowed her to try out for Gateway Field Hockey, a club team located in St. Louis. She earned a spot on the roster and began to travel and play with the team. 

In her sophomore year, Hannah earned a spot in the USA Field Hockey Development program called Futures. Hannah’s play on the field spoke volumes, which helped her earn spots in the USA Futures National Tournament, Futures Elite and Junior National Elite, the highest-level camp.

Hannah was a three-year letterman in field hockey during her time at Edwardsville High School. She was also an all-conference and all-state performer for her track team in the pole vault, an event for which she currently holds the school record.

With college drawing near, several schools from across the country were recruiting Hannah, and among those schools were Kent State, Miami University in Oxford and the University of Michigan. 

Kent State took the initiative to make the recruiting process one to remember for the Faulkner family. After Kent State scouts attended Hannah’s games while she was a member of her club team, they began to pursue her.

“I received an email from one of the assistant coaches at Kent State inviting me to one of their camps after seeing me play at a tournament,” Hannah said. 

Hannah’s parents wanted to weigh all the options before making the major decision. 

“I wanted Hannah to go to a school where she felt comfortable at,” Jennifer said.

Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler and her staff had an offer ready for Hannah right away. Faulkner told Kent State she wanted to wait and view all of her choices before deciding.

“Kent State was very accommodating to Hannah and her wishes,” Jennifer said. “Some other offers had quick deadlines for acceptance, and Hannah didn’t like be pressured.”

Once Hannah officially committed, she took an official visit with her family to Kent State’s campus. After her official visit, Wiler took a trip to visit her family at their home in Illinois.

“Hannah’s father and I were very pleased with Kent State’s offer and their methods of doing so,” Jennifer said. 

Wiler talked about what separated Faulkner as a top recruit. 

“Her speed and athleticism really set her apart from everyone else,” Wiler said.

Once Wiler and her staff had Hannah convinced to attend Kent State, they knew it was a big step for the program. 

During her time at Kent State, Hannah shined both on and off the field, setting a good example in the classroom and on the field. 

Hannah quickly made an impact for the Flashes on the field, as she started 18 of 19 games as a freshman. The following season Hannah registered seven goals, two assists and 16 points on the season. She also earned Academic All-MAC honors as a sophomore. 

Hannah’s junior year is when she began to really stand out from the crowd. During her breakout season, she tallied eight goals, three assists and 19 points playing in all 19 games. This earned her All-Mac First Team, Academic All-Mac and National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I National Academic Squad honors. 

Hannah then followed her junior season with one that would forever enshrine her name Kent State record books. Hannah was a top performer in the country on the field, as she was ranked highly in several categories, finishing sixth in the nation in goals per game and eighth in the nation in points per game. She earned her way into the program history with a nine-game scoring streak, the longest streak in Kent State history and also received MAC Player of the Year honors, All-West Region First Team honors, All-MAC First Team honors and All-American honors. 

“Hannah has done outstanding both academically and athletically at Kent State,” Hannah’s father, Steve Faulkner said. “Not many people are able to do that over the past four years.” 

Contact Ricky Salcer at [email protected].