Oct. 20, 2009
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As the leading rebounder on the Commodores basketball team last season (5.9 rpg), junior forward Hannah Tuomi is used to rising above her opponents to achieve her goal. Ironically, an injury that physically grounded Tuomi is what ultimately has allowed her to reach greater heights both on and off the court.
“That was real tough,” Tuomi said of an ankle injury that forced her to miss Vanderbilt’s run to an SEC championship and the Sweet 16. “It was the toughest part of my whole college career so far…(but) I think something that I really learned from it is being more humble and more thankful for where I am and what I’m doing.
“It’s a blessing every day to wake up and play basketball.”
It’s also a blessing for Vanderbilt to have Tuomi, who not only stood out on the boards but led the Commodores in field-goal percentage (56.5%) and finished second on the squad in points per game (11.4). In spite of being sidelined, Tuomi was able to further retool her game while her ankles readjusted.
“When I was hurt, there were only certain things I could work on in my basketball game,” Tuomi said. “I was on the side working on ball handling and shooting…I hope to see that contribute to my (play) on the court.”
Thus, Tuomi’s work ethic and on-court prowess have made her a leader by example, a task the junior cherishes.
“Last year, I was a sophomore and I was kind of in between,” Tuomi said. “This year, I know what I can do and what I can say. I’d say I’m…embracing it.”
The Commodores could certainly use the leadership if they are to build off last year’s accomplishments despite losing stars Jen Risper and Christina Wirth to the WNBA. With the addition of four freshmen to the lineup, Tuomi sees a team that is ready to reload rather than rebuild.
“This year, we have a lot of younger talent ,” Tuomi said. “I think…the younger talent this year will be a huge benefit (and) they’ll get the hang of it.
“Also the team chemistry this year…every year it seems to have gotten better so I think that’s going to play a major role in this year’s season.”
Hence, Tuomi sees a talented team with an open door for success. However, those are not the only doors she’s opening these days.
“If I see someone on crutches, I go over and hold open the door for them because I know what it was like,” Tuomi said. “It gives me a better understanding for people who are hurt and other people who are in the situation I was in.”