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Livingston to leave lasting impression at Brentwood

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 7:15 p.m.
Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Hannah Livingston is a three-sport athlete.

She is a three-sport athlete at Brentwood, and will be a four-year letter winner in basketball and softball when she graduates.

Hannah Livingston has been a key member of Brentwood's recent revitalization in girls basketball, as Livingston, Stephanie Thomas, Emma Betz and Molly Huffman helped propel the Spartans to four consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances.

“Hannah has always been an asset to this team. Her defensive prowess was a top reason for our success over the past four years,” coach Rachel Thomas said. “Hannah is a strong athlete. She is quick on her feet, and has a great court presence. For the past four years, we asked her to play the role of top defender. She embraced that role and effectively made great decisions on the court. She has the ability to steer an offense into uncomfortable situations.

“On a number of occasions, we asked Hannah to shut down a specific player. It's easy to see why Hannah was not well-liked by her opponents; she can get under their skin and in their head.”

Livingston, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, started all 23 games in 2016-17, and ranked among the team leaders in blocked shots, rebounding, assists and steals.

The Spartans ended up 17-6 overall, the best record in recent memory, and advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. Brentwood had not qualified for the playoffs for 11 years prior to the 2013-14 season.

“I'm very proud of my team and all the girls involved,” Livingston said. “We all played and worked extremely hard. Seeing the team generally improve throughout the season was a highlight for me, personally. It was sad to see the season end, but I'm predicting that the underclassmen will see a state playoff in the near future.”

The Brentwood girls won the Brentwood Boosters' tip-off tournament four consecutive years, and the team compiled a 56-32 overall record since Livingston's freshman season.

Brentwood rolled by Frazier, 58-43, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, before losing to Greensburg Central Catholic, 61-47, in the quarterfinals.

“I felt our season was very successful and our record definitely shows that,” Livingston said. “I do feel we should have went farther (in the playoffs) than we ended up, but I'm very proud of how far we came. With that being said, my season highlight was making it that far in the playoffs, because as a four-year (varsity) player we never made it that far. Making it to the second round of the playoffs was definitely a big step for the Brentwood basketball team.”

Livingston is a high honor roll student and scholar athlete at Brentwood. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Pep Club, Garden Club, superintendent's council and the school's steering committee. She also has participated in the Powder Puff football program; she has played basketball for 10 years.

Along with playing basketball and softball for four years, Livingston was a three-year letter winner in volleyball. She was an all-section selection in volleyball last fall.

“My favorite sport, although hard to pick, would have to be basketball because that's always been my main sport.” Livingston said. “I've played (basketball) since I was 7, and that's the one sport I know the best and makes me the happiest playing.”

Livingston's focus now is on the softball season. She is a center fielder for the Spartans.

“We are definitely hoping to make it to the playoffs,” Livingston said. “We've recently gained some freshmen (players) so it's always nice to see new faces and interest in the softball team. We are hoping to have a successful season, and are definitely working hard to achieve that.”

After high school, Livingston plans to attend a four-year university to study pharmacy. With a grade-point average hovering around 4.6 last semester, she has been accepted at both Duquesne at Pitt.

“My basketball career at Brentwood was definitely one to remember,” she said. “Starting as a freshmen, being a part of all the games and experiences for four years, made my career the best it could have been. Playing with my friends made all the memories even greater; I could never imagine playing anywhere else.”

Not only did she have friends as teammates, Livingston's dad, Jayson, is an assistant coach in the girls basketball program at Brentwood.

“I became an assistant coach when Hannah was a freshman; we had a very limited number of players,” Jayson said. “Hannah and the other freshmen were also thrown into action. Don't get me wrong, they were talented enough to play, but a lot was expected of them that year. Their potential was always present.

“The aspect of Hannah's four-year career that I'm most proud of is that she started almost every game her entire career.”

And with dad, and coach, Jayson on the bench for every game.

“It was both good and bad at times,” Livingston said. “He's very supportive of me and it was nice to have someone to talk to about the games and everything that was involved in the seasons.

“The bad part was it's hard to go from looking at him as a dad to looking at him as a coach some times. We can occasionally argue a little, but overall it was a good experience having him as my coach.”

Livingston's dad actually has been coaching her in basketball since her early days.

“I've had the unique experience to be her basketball coach since she was in second grade, so we haven't known any different,” Jayson said. “I have to thank her for getting me started coaching, as a matter of fact. She wanted to play soccer when she was 4, but she wouldn't play unless I coached her. I didn't know anything about soccer, but figured I would learn right beside her.

“So, I've coached her in soccer, softball and basketball. It's something I've cherished, and will cherish forever. I'm going to miss all four of our seniors tremendously, along with coaching Hannah. It's been a true honor to watch these girls grow up surrounded by the team, and (with) Rachel and I as their coaches.”

Livingston, Thomas, Betz and Huffman were honored at Brentwood's final home game this season, on senior recognition night.

“I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me through my years of basketball, and making me into the person I am,” said Hannah that night. “I would especially like to thank my dad for being my coach since the second grade. I would not be the player I am today with him.

“Last but not least, I'd like to thank the other three seniors for being great teammates, and even better friends. These past years have been amazing.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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