Hagedorn’s persistence pays off

SQUEEZING BY — North Union guard Samantha Hagedorn (middle) squeezes by West Hancock’s Kelly Leerar (24) to score a basket during regular-season Iowa prep action in Armstrong. Hagedorn has played a key role in guiding the Warriors to a 9-0 record by Christmas break. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ARMSTRONG — Samantha Hagedorn’s level of frustration with her game had reached a point where she was ready to walk away from basketball.

Right when she was ready to quit during the Christmas break of her freshman year, though, the North Union Warrior guard had a change of heart.

Instead of quitting, Hagedorn set a goal to work on and get better at her game. Three years after she considered leaving the game she loves, Hagedorn is a key part in the Iowa Class 2A, No. 15-ranked Warriors’ undefeated season after nine games.

Warriors head coach Merle Tigges has noticed the consistent improvements in Hagedorn’s game on both ends of the floor. For Tigges, one of the best statistical lines, however, is her personal fouls.

“Some years, she’s gotten into a little foul trouble, but this year, she’s really done a nice job (of staying out of foul trouble),” Tigges said about Hagedorn, who only has 18 fouls on the season. “Hopefully, that continues and she will stay out of foul trouble the rest of the year. We need her on the floor.

“There’s a group of girls you want on the floor, and she’s one of the seven, eight girls we want on the floor.”

Hagedorn, who is a two-time member of the Sentinel All-Area girls basketball team, took an extra step to perfect her craft by attending two Point Guard College Camps in Minnesota.

The first camp she attended taught her more about skills and the intangibles of basketball. The next time she went, Hagedorn learned how to be a better leader outside of scoring.

“Sophomore year, I was just shooting a lot and junior year, I was like, alright, obviously, I can get assists and do other stuff to be involved,” she said. “My passes have gotten a lot better, I think. You know, I’m doing more besides just shooting, and helping my team by contributing as much as I can.”

“Her passing steadily gets better every year, which is good,” Tigges agreed. “If any basketball player is steadily improving, that’s a good sign.”

Her father also helps her to work on her game.

“We always go shoot together and he would always tell me I can do anything I can set my mind to,” Hagedorn said. “Some kids are told that they have to do a certain sport. Well, my parents (say) do what you love, and I love basketball, so that’s what I want to do.”

Now a three-year starter, Hagedorn is averaging 16.2 points on 43 percent shooting, 5.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game and showing no signs of slowing down.

Hagedorn and the Warriors are content with their 9-0 start, but have their sights set for higher. After coming close in previous years, the team is aiming to achieve a goal that Hagedorn and the other seniors have been dreaming about since their eighth-grade year.

“Every year, we go down and watch (the state tournament) and every year, we think, ‘Man, we wish this were us,'” Hagedorn recalled. “I think if we just keep working really hard and work on the little things that get us there in those tight games, we have a shot. I know everyone’s fired up and I know I’m fired up. … Accomplishing it, especially my senior year, would mean the world to me.”

Hagedorn’s work doesn’t stop there, however. She hopes to continue playing basketball in college and has already been in contact with a few schools, including Iowa Lakes Community College, where Hagedorn’s AAU coach, Ashley Martin, is the head coach; the University of Wisconsin-Richland; Waldorf University; and Briar Cliff University; among others.

At this point, Hagedorn is still weighing her options and seeing which school can also offer her the best chance of pursuing a career as either a neo-natal or pediatric nurse.

After a disappointing start to her freshman season, Hagedorn was almost ready to call it quits on the sport she loves. Instead of giving up, though, she decided to work harder and it’s paying off.

“I know that I can keep getting better because I have a lot to work on,” she said. “I need to keep going because I’m not where I want to be.”