Hanna Crymble has pretty much done it all: gymnastics, soccer, softball, dance.
“I just tried every sport,” Crymble said. “Except hockey. I never played hockey.”
The list includes football, which she played in second through sixth grade. She was a running back, linebacker and tried every position except quarterback and center.
That experience and toughness she developed helped prepare Crymble, now a 6-3 Champlin Park senior, for other sports. She now plays volleyball, basketball and lacrosse.
She was part of the Rebels’ volleyball teams in the 2014 and 2015 state tournaments. Going into state this year, she had 54 kills and 49 total blocks.
“She’s a force at the net as far as blocking,” coach John Yunker said. “It’s amazing how far she’s come … and how fast she’s picked up the game.”
Junior Sydney Hilley, the Star Tribune’s Metro Volleyball Player of the Year, played fastpitch softball with Crymble before they attended high school. Crymble didn’t start playing volleyball until freshman year, at the urging of Hilley, who recognized her friend’s athletic ability.
“I said, ‘Hey, if you’re trying all these things and you don’t have a fall sport, why not try volleyball?’ ” Hilley said. “And then here she is helping us on the varsity team get back to state two years in a row.”
Trying a new sport wasn’t anything new for Crymble. After all, it was her idea to play football.
“My brother played, and I’d go to his practices and I wanted to be out there with him,” Crymble said. “It just seemed like a lot of fun, and my dad thankfully allowed me to do it.”
She was the only girl in the male-dominated sport, and football gave her an athletic advantage. A lot of its needed skills apply to all sports, she said. For instance, knowing hitting angles or angles players take to run and catch up to the ball certainly helps. Being able to gauge speed to catch up helps in any sport, she said.
Then there’s learning how to fall, or how to initiate a hit, to prevent your body from injury. Crymble said that’s helped her in the long run. The only injury she has had was a torn ligament in her left thumb about a year ago, which limited her during basketball.
The Rebels even throw footballs to warm-up for volleyball because the motion is the same.
“All sports really run into each other,” Crymble said.
Football helps with eliminating fear of contact and controlling your body when it happens. That’s a big help in basketball, Crymble said.
“That’s why basketball is a sport that some girls love and flourish in and some don’t because of the contact,” she said.
Basketball provides the physical play that she enjoyed in her football days. With practices starting Monday. Crymble hopes to reach 1,000 career points — she needs 225 more.
She’s committed to play basketball for the University of Vermont.
Knowing benefits she accrued playing football, Crymble would recommend it to others if they have the desire. You won’t learn anything without that desire, she said.
Ultimately, she recommends trying different sports if someone wants.
“Because if it interests you, it’s going to help you in anything in life,” Crymble said. “In occupations, in sports, whatever it may be.
“With every experience comes learning. It’s never bad to learn.”