Hannah Lease (Class of 2014) and her father, Warren (1978), both received Athlete of the Year honors from Frontier High School. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
Hannah Lease has played four sports during her athletic career at Frontier, but rarely has she been concerned about receiving any honor or award. However, there has been one trophy in her own basement that she has admired and aspired to achieve her entire life.
Warren, her father, was selected as Frontier’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1978 for his achievement in football, wrestling and baseball. Hannah was honored as Frontier’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2014, 36 years later.
Of all the honors that Lease received during her high school career, sharing that honor with her dad stands out far ahead of the rest.
“The one that I always dreamed about was Athlete of the Year because my dad was Athlete of the Year,” said Lease, who is headed to Hamilton College in the fall. “It’s like this super old huge trophy in our basement. That was the one that I always thought would be incredible. That would be the biggest honor.”
Along with her many other awards, Lease was one of eight locals honored at the fifth annual All-CPOWNY Lacrosse Banquet, presented by the Buffalo Bandits June 17 at Ilio DiPaolo’s. Lease also made the team in 2013.
“It has everything to do with the coaches that I’ve had and my dad being a coach, teaching me at a young age that you’re making yourself better, but for the team,” Lease noted. “They’re so passionate about making you better individuals. I’m so blessed and I think about it all the time how incredible my coaches have been. They’ll be at my wedding.”
Lease had quite a spring as far as accolades goes. To go along with her Athlete of the Year award, she was selected to the All-WNY first team for a second year in a row after making All-WNY second team as a sophomore and being a Class A first team All-Star all four of her high school years.
She was an Academic All-American in 2013, US Lacrosse All-American in 2014 and was a finalist for Tom Borrelli Memorial Award, which honors the top female lacrosse player from WNY, this past spring. But her senior season still felt empty without a sectional title.
“It’s an honor to get them. I think that knowing the girls that I play with and realizing how incredible they are, to be put in the same category as they are, that’s a huge honor,” said Lease, who is helping coach Frontier’s JV girls team in the summer. “I think it’s had everything to do with my coaching, but I’ll always place the team above the individual. I much would have rather won Section VI. I would trade it all.”
An ideal ending to Lease’s senior season would have been defeating Lancaster in the Class A Section VI championship game. She helped defeat Lancaster for the sectional crown in 2011 and after a late-season triumph over the defending champion this spring, Lease really thought her team had a chance for another one.
“We’ve shown we were capable of beating them, and it’s obviously still upsetting to lose, but at the end of the sectional title game I’m looking around and these are friendships that I’ll have for life,” said Lease.
“I’ll always be a part of the Frontier program. I told them that they better win it next year. If they win it next year that’ll be good enough for me.”
A huge factor in the decision of the sectional title game was Lease’s health, who injured herself in the second of the three meetings against Lancaster late in the regular season. What she thought was a hamstring strain that occurred in the late-season visit to Lancaster, recent MRIs have shown that a herniated disc may be the cause of her leg pain.
Hoping that she would be closer to 80 percent for the sectional title game, a hobbled Lease could barely make it to midfield, diagnosing herself as 40 percent healthy. But she never thought once about sitting out of the championship.
“They would’ve had to cut my leg off, but I was playing in that game,” Lease said. “That’s why I didn’t go to a doctor right away because they probably would’ve taken me out for two weeks and I didn’t have two weeks. There was no way I was going to miss that game.”
Lease missed the season finale versus West Seneca East and returned to the field for Frontier’s semifinal battle against Clarence, scoring the tying goal before Frontier took the lead late in the game for a come-from-behind victory to return to Class A finals.
“In other sports, when we’re down by what seems like a crazy amount, it seems over. But with Frontier lacrosse it never felt over. It never did,” Lease said about the semis. “You just have so much confidence in the team. I was focused on contributing whatever I could.”
Lease tallied 56 points on 36 goals in her final year at Frontier, but she will return to the defensive end when she plays for Patty Kloidt at Hamilton next year.
“I’m a defender at heart,” said Lease, who began her lacrosse career as a defender.
A victory over eventual Class B Section VI champion Hamburg late in the regular season is also something Lease will never forget from her senior season. The Frontier program has come a long way from a few years ago to become a team that’s expected to compete for a title every spring. Head coach Tim Myslinski reminded the girls of that every time they played Orchard Park.
“Probably about seven or eight years ago, Orchard Park dominated girls lacrosse in this area with Lancaster,” said Lease. “Their coach would run the score up on us when Myslinski was coaching. So after the game, Mys was so fired up he was like, “One day our program will be better than yours and we will run the score up like this,” and it’s funny because now we’re better than them, but we don’t run the score up.”
Along with the accolades, championships, and even the opportunity to learn under coaches she will look up to forever, being noted as a captain again will stand out just as much.
“My senior year was incredible,” said Lease. “The honor of being a two-year captain, just for the girls to see me as a leader was incredible. And the team didn’t have a single problem.
“As girls, there was nothing. It was just blissful and kind of weird, but everyone got along and never questioned anyone’s commitment to the team. You can’t ask for more than that.”