Balancing Act: Daman displays strong work ethic while playing, coaching
Story By: Taylor Nichol
When you ask coaches what they look for in a player, many will tell you that they want to work with “coachable” athletes. Being part of a team sport requires a willingness to try new things and accept criticism. Reflecting upon her high school football years, Hannah Daman recalls having a strong desire to learn everything she could.
Daman, a current Pittsburgh Passion player, was a member of the Central Valley High School varsity football team in 2014. She was 16 when she joined the team and recalls going through an adjustment period.
“High school football was a big learning experience for me,” she said. “I didn’t know hardly anything about football besides how to score and some of the names of positions.”
Rather than being intimidated, the Monaca native valued the opportunity to study what she saw on the field.
“I sat back and learned as much as I could, trying to keep up,” she said.
That season was eventful for Daman and her Central Valley teammates, as they won the WPIAL Class AAA Championship and ended as the PIAA Championship runner-up.
During her senior year, Daman received a call from the Pittsburgh Passion, a women's professional full-contact tackle football team. She accepted an offer to play at the next level after high school, although she couldn’t legally play until she turned 18.
“By the time I was of age, we (the Passion) were in the playoffs, and on our way to the 2015 championship in South Carolina,” she said. “My original position was wide receiver/tight end, and I only practiced linebacker once before the championship game.”
However, in true Hannah Daman fashion, her team needed her to play as a linebacker, and she adapted to the situation. “Before I knew it, I was put in at middle linebacker,” she said. “We ended up winning the championship my rookie season with me playing at middle linebacker!”
Daman still considers that 2015 National Championship to be her greatest sports moment. She has been selected three times as a Women's Football Alliance All-American, which operates similarly to the NFL Pro Bowl.
In her playing career, she has crossed paths with many influential sports figures.
The list includes Hines Ward, Lisa Horton, Robert Foster, Jordan Whitehead, Stephanie Balochko, and Katie Sowers. Horton and Passion Coach Teresa Conn are in the Heinz History Center Women's Professional Football Sports Hall of Fame.
Daman also interacts with Franco Harris, an owner of the Pittsburgh Passion, and former Pittsburgh Steeler.
Just like she always has, Daman tries to soak up as much inspiration as she can from these athletes and coaches. “It’s really great to ask them about their paths and how they got there,” she says. “Some of these people I’ve had the pleasure to play on the same level as and just being near them gives you that level-up intensity that any athlete needs on their team!”
Beyond her ability to break barriers and adapt, Daman can be proud of her hard-working nature. It is clear when talking to Daman that her work ethic is incredible. In addition to playing for the Passion, Daman has many other responsibilities on her plate. She is a graduating senior at Robert Morris University, where she has been studying Media Arts with a Graphic Design concentration. Along with her studies, she also was a member of the RMU Women’s Rowing team for 4 years. She also holds two part-time jobs at the Beaver County YMCA and GreenTree SportsPlex.
But that’s not all she does! “I have coached the termite and mighty-mite football teams for the Central Valley Li’l Warriors for 3 years now,” she says.
As an adult, she is now learning how to manage the various tasks she has to complete. “It has been an obstacle to juggle everything and still give my maximum attention to whatever I was doing at that moment,” she says.
At one point, Daman had practice at 5 a.m. and worked until 9 p.m. each week. “Some days, I barely had time to eat,” she says.
She is willing to work on a tight schedule and push herself because she is doing what she loves. Just like playing has, coaching has brought a lot of joy to her life.
Since she used to be a young player hoping to learn, she enjoys being on the other side of the game and helping young athletes. “I love when I see them get the same look I get when I make a great play, “ she says. “Sometimes, I finally understand why my coach was telling me to do a specific movement in a drill and it’s like that light bulb moment!”
Now that she is a coach herself, Daman has a strong appreciation for all that goes into the position. She is very inspired her Passion coach, Teresa Conn.
She describes Conn as the most selfless person she has ever met. “She always puts her friends, family and team before her own wants and needs,” “It doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated!”
In addition to Coach Conn, Daman is extremely grateful for her family for their unconditional support. “My family definitely helped shape me into the athlete and coach I am today,” she said. “They are all sports fanatics, especially football, so they have always been there to support me!”
Daman also thanks her teammates for pushing her to be the best she can be.
Reminiscing, she is grateful for the nights she spent along the Ohio River, cheering on the Monaca Indians. “I remember wanting to be the one on the field that everyone was cheering for,” she says. “Being in that kind of atmosphere just gets my blood pumping and makes me want to put on a helmet!”
As her college career comes to an end, she is excited for what the future holds in football and in her media career. “I would like to work for an established brand or minor league sports team to do graphic design work,” she says.
One thing is for sure-- whatever she sets her mind to do, she will work hard to make it happen.
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