Fighting Spirit Drives Lo Hathaway '16,
On and Off the Volleyball Court
Twenty-year-old Laura “Lo” Hathaway is the libero on the Stony Brook University volleyball team, a defensive specialist position that requires non-stop action throughout the entire game. So when she began to experience dizzy spells in September of her freshman year during the fall of 2012 she was naturally concerned.
The next three months became a descent into seemingly endless doctor visits and medical procedures with no quick or definitive answers for the Warsaw, New York native. During that time, she often slept 20 hours a day and had to withdraw from school on medical leave while she was being treated. To make matters worse, Hathaway was plagued by migraines, was hypersensitive to noise and light, and broke out in rashes.
At first, her illness mirrored symptoms associated with Lyme disease and she was given antibiotics pending a firm diagnosis. Though the precise nature of her illness remains a mystery, she was able to wean herself off of all medications by January and returned to school and volleyball in February.
The third-year sophomore credits her “huge support system” with her recovery. Her mother’s advice and encouragement, the fact that her sister shuttled her to doctor appointments, and her Stony Brook roommate, Hannah Dolan, who monitored her visitors and kept the room quiet and dimly lit all helped her on the road back to health. She and Dolan are more than roommates — they are best friends and team leaders. Dolan is the team’s setter and controls the offense, while Hathaway, as the libero, runs the defense. “Volleyball is a real team sport,” said Hathaway. “You can’t do anything without each other. And my teammates, I’ve learned, [as a result of her illness] have my back on and off the court.”
Finally for Hathaway, help came from within. Growing up with nine siblings (“It’s almost a volleyball team”) transformed her into a self-described fighter. She gets that fighting spirit from her mom, a 5-foot, 100-pound powder keg who Hathaway said has overcome more than her share of adversity. “I’m my mom’s youngest daughter and being the youngest you have to learn to pull your own weight.” That spunk serves her well on the volleyball court as well. “As a libero you have to be loud,” she says.
Her Stony Brook statistics speak volumes. Despite missing significant playing time (she only played in three out of 25 matches last season) Hathaway has already amassed 850 career digs significant because it often translates to negating opponents’ attacks that would result in scores.
During a season-finale loss to Yale on November 26 Hathaway entered the Stony Brook history books, tallying her 13th dig of the night, and passing Noelle Bay for the program’s all-time single-season dig record. Hathaway finished with 20 digs in the match and 553 in 2013. Her 4.29 digs per set average was good for fifth in Stony Brook single-season this year. Her 2011 digs per set average (4.25), was seventh in Stony Brook single-season history.
“The main stat I care about is winning,” said Hathaway. “I want to win a championship and we’re getting there. We’ve got new coaches and a new outlook in the spring and they believe in us 100 per cent. If you find consistency and trust in your abilities, good things will happen.” The Seawolves edged closer to that dream this fall with a 16-18 overall record and a 9-5 finish in the America East, their third-best winning percentage in conference play behind their 2007 showing (.917) and 2003 mark (.714).
Hathaway’s other love besides volleyball is giving back to the community. She has worked with the Miracle League, where athletes pair up with children who have disabilities and participate in charitable athletic events such as the Walk for Beauty and the Relay For Life. “I have an entirely new appreciation for people who can’t extricate themselves from constant struggle,” she said. Hathaway also is affiliated with different boys and girls organizations and teaches volleyball at that level.
A business major who produces videos and is an avid photographer, Hathaway hopes to someday work for an athletic brand such as Nike or Gatorade. “I don’t think I’ll ever leave athletics. I’ve been an athlete all my life.”
“Lo is an intricate part not only of our team but our athletic department,” said head volleyball coach Coley Pawlikowski. “She is learning to identify and strengthen her leadership skills and it is a fun path to be on with her as her coach. She represents our student athlete body well academically and athletically and is working to be a role model for future student-athletes.”
“A leader to me is someone who learns to get through the hard times and excels not just when things are good,” Hathaway said and added, “if the team had a slogan it would be ‘Learning How to Overcome Obstacles.’ ”
That could serve as Hathaway’s personal motto as well.
By Glenn Jochum