SAAC Spotlight: Western Washington's Hannah Nienaber
Hannah Nienaber finished in seventh place in the javelin throw at the 2019 GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a mark of 141 feet, 10 inches.
Hannah Nienaber finished in seventh place in the javelin throw at the 2019 GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a mark of 141 feet, 10 inches.
Hannah Nienaber
Hannah Nienaber

Friday, May 8, 2020

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes who are members of their respective institutions’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition to providing feedback on the student-athlete experience, conference and institutional SAAC members also offer input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes’ lives on NCAA member institution campuses.

Name: Hannah Nienaber
Women's Track and Field
Western Washington University
Environmental Science
Battle Ground, Washington

Why Did You Choose To Attend Western Washington?: I chose to attend Western Washington because it has a strong environmental science program and I love Bellingham. The school is a perfect size and is located in a beautiful area. I am proud to be a part of a strong javelin group at Western Washington. Division II provides a great balance for me and the coaches are incredibly caring and supportive.

What Is Your Favorite Class You Have Taken And Why?: My favorite class so far was Sustainability Literacy. I am passionate about sustainability and loved being able to make new connections in the discipline. Hearing new perspectives from guest lecturers was inspiring.

Who Is Your Favorite Professor And What Did You Enjoy About Learning From Him Or Her?: My favorite professor is Donna Qualley because she is kind and understanding and maintains a high level of intellectual challenge. She makes things fun and pushes her students to think deeper.

Years Involved In SAAC: One year.

The Reason You Chose To Get Involved In SAAC: I wanted to be more of a leader in the student-athlete community and work for positive change in our programs. If student-athletes are seen as leaders on campus then SAAC members hold the ultimate leadership positions and the ability to influence others. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and learn new things.

Most Memorable SAAC Activity To Date: Creating baskets for a local nonprofit organization that supports women and children.

How Do You Feel Participating In SAAC Will Help You In Life After You Graduate?: Participating in SAAC will help me to build communication skills that will be beneficial throughout my entire life.

What Does It Mean To You To Be A Division II Student-Athlete?: It means having a solid balance between school and athletics. It means competing at a high level while having strong personal support from coaches and teammates.

What Is The Most Important Thing You’ve Learned About Balancing Athletics And Academics?: I learned that I am capable of doing a lot but sometimes, in order to be my best, I need to take a step back and relax.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome During Your Collegiate Career: The biggest obstacles I have overcome in college are mental blocks and fears that stop me from reaching my full potential. I often stress out about situations and find myself overthinking everything, but I have been getting better at rising above and letting go.

Favorite Thing About Competing In The GNAC: I love the passion and care that drives the GNAC. I feel safe and supported while still competing at a high level.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: Walking down from the dorms before dawn as a freshman to pick up the javelins from the shed. Riding with them in the back of our coach’s truck to the bus on the way to a big meet was a powerful moment. It gave me feelings of inclusion, preparedness and excitement for the day to come.

If You Could Change One NCAA Rule, It Would Be: I would love to see more mental health awareness and community service being encouraged by the NCAA.

Current Mentor(s): I don't have any specific mentors but I like to view everyone as a mentor. I have much to learn from everyone around me, regardless of relationship or status. With that being said, if I had to choose one person, it would be my mom because she has been my life mentor.

Best Advice You’d Give To An Incoming Freshman: Get involved in something outside of classes and athletics and try to get connected with new people as much as possible. Don't be afraid to go somewhere or try something new just because your friends won’t be there too. Try new things and keep an open mind.

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why)?: My grandma. She is so much fun and someone who I look up to. She makes me laugh and finds beauty in all of the little things.

Extracurricular Activities: I am a mentor for the Sustainability Representatives.

Future Goals After Graduation: I would love to land a fulfilling career where I am able to make strides toward sustainable communities and environmental awareness. I would also love to buy a property where I can grow most of my own food and create a self-sufficient lifestyle for my family.

Favorite Sports Team: Portland Trail Blazers.

Favorite Athlete: Kara Winger.

One Thing People Don’t Know About Me Is: I was on the bowling team during my sophomore year of high school so that I could be a three-sport athlete along with volleyball and track and field.