Everybody is dedicated to something in life, but can you imagine being entirely dedicated to seven group organizations and a variety of hobbies? Sami Hatagan, a senior at Valparaiso High School, is a part of seven group organizations within school and enjoys other hobbies outside of school.
At Valparaiso High School, Sami participates in Varsity Bowling, Drama Club, National Honor Society, Writer's Block, Team LEAD, National Society of High School Scholars and orchestra. Her hobbies include going to the bowling alley to practice, playing violin, doing art activities, writing poetry, watching Netflix and, every so often, reading. For Sami, joining Team LEAD was one of the best experiences in her life, because it teaches the younger generation appropriate social skills that most students lack.
“I have been bowling since I was four years old,” said Sami Hatagan. “My parents were both bowling in their own leagues at the time and decided to put me in my own at Camelot Bowl in Portage. I loved everything about it, the atmosphere, the food, and the friends I made through the years I spent there. You could say I practically lived at the alley.”
In 5th grade, Sami was introduced to the Northwest Indiana Middle School Bowling by a coach, and she knew she would love being a part of it from the beginning. She has always been a big competitor, so the league was a great fit for her. In the middle of her 7th grade year, she went to a tournament where she met her private coach. By being coached once a week, it took her average from 150 to 180 almost instantly.
Sami was determined to show that she was capable of everything that a senior was while she transitioned from the middle school to high school bowling team. The confidence the coaching gave her lead her to win the first singles tournament the day after her 15th birthday.
“The feeling was indescribable and having my dad behind me watching was that much more amazing,” said Hatagan. “With that win, I became the first freshman to win a Northwest Indiana High School Bowling Tournament, and the first kid from Valpo to ever win one as well. I kept the momentum going by winning a doubles tournament with a good friend of mine two months later.”
Today, she has made the all-conference team twice, and has tied for 5th in the state this past season for highest average with a 202. Next year, she will be continuing her bowling career and studying Nursing at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, where she hopes to make the varsity team. Sami has made history for Valpo, again, by becoming the first bowler to sign onto a college team.
“After high school, I am really excited to go to college,” said Hatagan. “I have no doubts that I will be in good hands with the nursing program and team.”
Through all her accomplishments, Sami has had a lot of people impact her and support her along her way. One of the most notable was the first high school coach she had. His name was Mark, who she describes as one of the funniest and most generous people she has ever met.
“He gives and gives and gives, and expects nothing in return,” said Hatagan. “I do not think I would've gotten where I am today without him pulling me over to the side to tell me a joke and cheer me up every time I got frustrated at a meet.”
Another big influencer in her life is her 16-year-old brother, Jacob. Jacob has autism and has had to deal with some really rough medical battles, but Sami explains that “the level of resilience this kid has is unbelievable.” It is a level she does not think she would be able to convey at any point in life. He never gives up, almost always has a smile on his face, and Sami loves him.
Other supporters of Sami include her parents Kate and Jerry, her best friend Heather, and all her friends who have been nothing but supportive of her.
“Hard work is all that comes to mind as to how I got to where I am today,” said Hatagan. “I was always really tough on myself about my grades in school and making sure that I was doing the best I could in that aspect. I also made sure I practiced hard and as often as my schedule permitted it, because I knew that if I was not living up to the standards, I set for myself it was because I did not work hard enough toward it. You can't be upset at yourself for failing a test you didn't study for, so the same concept applies to athletics. You can't expect to be the best without practice.”