Rochester's Hannah Lindemuth Helps
Come half-time at the University of Rochester, Hannah Lindemuth takes shot after shot, finding confidence every time she drains one.
Seeing the ball go through the net clears her mind of first-half mistakes and reaffirms that she can change the game. If she starts doubting herself, she may manifest her worries into reality.
Lindemuth dearly holds onto a saying from her former coach, Paul Zeise, “You have to feel well to play well.”
Those words encapsulate a mission not only for herself but for others. Lindemuth now works tirelessly to make sure her teammates, in the midst of a widespread mental health crisis, can avoid the debilitation of doubt.
Dealing With Doubt
Her basketball career began in 1st grade with her father, Todd Lindemuth, coaching.
Having him as a coach was a demanding experience, but Lindemuth attributes much of her basketball success to him.
“My dad and I are pretty much the same person. We’re very passionate, very driven, and if we’re doing something, we’re going to do it 110%.”
Lindemuth recalled with a laugh how they both possessed that headstrong nature, more than occasionally butting heads over basketball.
Sometimes, Mom would have to get involved.
Having a parent as a coach is not always the most pleasant experience, as many aspiring athletes have learned the hard way. The infamous car ride home after a loss could have tears and yelling, placing a burden on Lindemuth to become better at basketball.
Doubt set in as she worked day after day to reach the level of play her father dreamed for her.
The doubt persisted while Lindemuth worked hard, pushing her limits physically and mentally. After numerous early mornings shooting in the gym with her father, she began reaching new levels of play.
Through the sweat, tears, and angst, her father remained her biggest supporter.
As early as fifth grade, Lindemuth had a “rival” team, Chartiers Valley. Even more so, she had a personal rival.
In the championship game, her nemesis broke away and ran down the court with the ball.
Lindemuth’s competitive nature emerged, sprinting as fast as possible in hot pursuit.
She caught up, jumped and raised her hand, swatting the ball like LeBron in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
On the sidelines, her father leaped in the air, overjoyed.
Rumor has it he did not get nearly as high as Hannah.
After giving her father a gift with that block, he wanted to give her the means to keep developing her game.
When Lindemuth hit 6th grade the following year, he gave her a gift that she has loved ever since: a shooting machine. To this day, it remains one of her all time favorite presents, ranking just behind a necklace from Mom.
The years went by, and the shooting machine was one of the constants in her life. She always found time to put some shots up, occasionally having her dad throw a hand in her face for a challenge.
The machine still works and helps Lindemuth perfect her three-pointers while simultaneously achieving serenity - albeit with her beloved country music blaring.
Maybe even her brother’s Nashville based band, November Blue.
Answer For Why
Lindemuth attended West Allegheny High School in Imperial, Pennsylvania, and honed her skills.
The West Allegheny team consisted of girls who Lindemuth played with throughout elementary to middle school, and they went into their new environment with a common goal.
When the girls walked into their gym freshman year, the athletic banners showcased all the championship teams.
A crucial banner was missing: women’s basketball.
Although the seemingly Herculean task initially disheartened Lindemuth, she and her teammates resolved that they would finally put a banner up.
Lindemuth played well until she noticed a change in her energy during her sophomore year.
“I wasn’t confident in my play my freshman and sophomore years, and I went through a lot of health issues.”
Doubt reared its head again as she noticed that she could not perform the same or even keep up with her teammates.
Finding herself devoid of energy, Lindemuth fell into a slump. Basketball was her life and she suddenly discovered herself on the brink of not being able to play shattered her world.
Her mental state grew weaker as she failed to find a reason why this was happening. She spent her childhood working to perfect her game, and it started to seem like it was all for naught.
In the midst of her crisis, she finally received an answer to her problem.
After extensive testing, Lindemuth learned why she felt so uncomfortable just trying to play; she had Celiac Disease. Her doctors, dumbfounded, said they had no idea how she managed playing basketball, given her low iron levels.
“It was like a total 360 in my game when we figured it out,” Lindemuth said.
She realized her struggles were not her fault, providing much-needed reassurance.
“I was feeling better; I was feeling more confident.”
As her psyche healed, her performance only improved. Lindemuth rained 3’s on her opponents.
She became an amazing game-changing player. And with her leadership it finally happened: a championship.
Yes, a banner now hangs.
Helping And Hannah
Her momentum did not stop there.
Her AAU team, the Western PA Bruins, played phenomenal games across the country as a part of the Adidas Gauntlet. Traveling to different matches across Texas, Georgia, and Arizona, Lindemuth caught the eyes of recruiters across the nation.
Lindemuth received offers from D1, D2, and D3 schools. However, she would only pick the college where she felt wanted for her, not just her basketball skills.
She could not shake the feeling that some schools only wanted another great guard, not a great person. But she felt at home at the University of Rochester.
They wanted Hannah for Hannah.
Starting her career at Rochester as a member of the Class of 2023, Lindemuth was ready to show her team and opponents her shooting prowess.
Celiac Disease doesn't just go away, however. Flare-ups occur. Lindemuth felt herself possibly falling into a slump and fearing doubting herself.
Using the school’s psychiatrist, she pinpointed the issues affecting her the most.
“Your mentality connects to everything,” Lindemuth said.
Physical ailments, like upset stomachs, started vanishing when she addressed the underlying mental struggles.
“It changed my life and my game.”
Lindemuth quickly proved one of the Yellowjackets’ strongest weapons, averaging 13.2 points a game, the highest on the team. She started 14 out of her 25 appearances, and one could only expect that increasing the following year.
“Hannah is one who you will find putting work into her game at all hours to be the best player she can be,” Lindemuth’s roommate and teammate, Kelsey Stites, said.
Accolades rolled in from her conference, including being named the University Athletic Association (UAA) Rookie of the Year and to the all-UAA 2nd team.
Immediately after Lindemuth found out she had to make a call.
To who? Her father, of course.
Tears of joy started flowing. To be clear, the tears came from Dad.
“He was crying because he was so proud of me,” Lindemuth said with a smile.
After a stellar season that made everyone that knew her proud, everything was looking up.
COVID-19 then came in like a wrecking ball, canceling seasons and the tournament within weeks.
“It stripped them of their dreams and what college was supposed to be,” Lindemuth’s father said. “Basketball was bluntly the biggest part of the athletes’ lives and they didn’t know what to do without it.”
Morale reached a low point for Rochester. The squad was down to 8 players.
Wondering what was team’s end goal, the floodgates of doubt opened. Conference play was cancelled, leaving nothing to chase after.
Something needed to change.
Lindemuth began campaigning for mental health, checking in with teammates, and going the extra mile to ensure no one was left behind.
“She is a nurturer and a natural activist to ensure her teammates are doing well personally and as a player,” Jennifer Lindemuth, Hannah’s mother, said.
She refused to let doubts grab ahold of her teammates. Seeing in them similar struggles she once faced, she vowed to do everything in her power to keep them happy.
After all, you have to feel well to play well.
“She never asks more of a teammate than she is willing to do herself,” Head Coach Jim Scheible added. “In that way, her teammates know that she is willing to do the heavy lifting and that she truly cares.”
Lindemuth began constantly asking her teammates, “What do you want from me if you’re having a bad day?”
Making sure her teammates have someone to talk to, she stays in touch and keeps an open line. Her experiences getting help, allow her to see they may need help too.
However, her teammates are not her only focus in this mental health battle.
In her sophomore year, Lindemuth joined the Varsity Student Athletic Advisory Committee (VSAAC), to help expand the impact of her caring and nurturing nature beyond basketball.
Through VSAAC, Lindemuth brought speakers to talk about mental health and eating disorders.
Lindemuth is also collaborating with other varsity athletes, creating a new program to increase sportsmanship by regulating what players and fans say during games.
She seeks to work with the UAA to help implement her ideas conference-wide, and her efforts come at a crucial time for NCAA women. A disturbing suicide spike has been recorded in women across different NCAA teams.
Upon seeing the troubling trend, Lindemuth vowed to make sure no one is alone at Rochester.
Lindemuth, along with her team, came roaring back for the 2021-22 season after their brief COVID season. She changed the flow of close games with her shooting.
Then came the January 2022 battle with Emory:
Rochester trails 57-63 with a mere 29 seconds left.
Lindemuth drains a three!
Rochester, now down by only 3, fouls.
Emory misses their free throws!
16 seconds left, Rochester has the ball, and…
Emory calls time-out.
Will Lindemuth’s determination waver, will she be iced?
Clock begins ticking again.
Down to 11 seconds.
Lindemuth has the ball.
She shoots it from way downtown and…
She made it! We’re going to overtime!
After Rochester went on to win 71-66, Lindemuth’s father offered three words on the game, “Proud dad moment.”
“I see her as a ‘silent assassin’ as she may not be the biggest rah-rah player out there,” Coach Scheible said. “But, boy does she become laser-focused when a game is on the line.”
Finishing the season with a 16-9 record and an incredible 14.6 points per game, Lindemuth received recognition.
She earned All-Region from D3Hoops, First Team All-UAA, and All-Rochester Area.
Looking to her bright future, Lindemuth wants to bring Rochester to the tournament in the 2022-23 season to cement her successful career.
Before that, she’s working to build up her teammates mentally.
She wants to expand her leadership role on the basketball team by creating small groups led by an upperclassman to go to for assistance with their problems and frustrations.
Lindemuth aims high with her goals and intends on continuing her work with mental health in sports after college. She desires a career as a college coach so that she can bring her philosophies and skills to more players.
Getting a small taste of coaching life, she now works with Shoot 360 to help aspiring players develop their game in a high-tech environment.
Operating shooting stations, she teaches anyone from young children to high schoolers how to shoot and play efficiently.
“She sets her goals and will not be stopped in trying to achieve them,” Coach Scheible said.
Lindemuth has proven time and time again that she will extend a helping hand to those who need it most, never leaving anyone suffering behind.
“I’ve been through it,” Hannah said. “I promise I will be there for you.”
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