DeBalsi honored by Sports Illustrated with Athlete of the Month award
Staples runner Hannah DeBalsi has already enjoyed an incredible senior season that’s included a commitment to Stanford and a third straight appearance at the cross country nationals. Her success caught the attention of a national publication and her story was told to the world as a result.
On Saturday morning at the Staples Field House, DeBalsi received Sports Illustrated’s High School Athlete of the Month award for December. DeBalsi was the subject of a short documentary that ran on the company’s website, and appeared in the Dec. 21st edition of the magazine.
The four-year long journey from freshman phenom to seasoned veteran was recognized in each platform.
“Everybody’s heard of Sports Illustrated, ever since you were a little kid,” said Staples coach Amanda Morgan, who has guided DeBalsi since the first practice of her freshman season in cross country. “Hannah getting an award from such a prestigious and national publication puts her accomplishments into a context even for people who don’t follow running.”
DeBalsi was honored in front of family, friends and track teammates prior to a meet held in the Field House. Donn Cabral, a 2012 Olympian in the steeplechase and Glastonbury native, presented DeBalsi with the award, — in conjunction with the United States Marines — shortly speaking about her accomplishments and her status as someone who is looked up to by runners across the country.
“The best thing is that the entire community gets recognition,” DeBalsi said. “It’s not just me, it’s my parents, teammates and coaches. It’s nice that the hard work for the past four years gets recognized.”
The award celebrates outstanding athletic achievement as well as exhibiting exceptional character traits. For someone who grew up reading the publication, DeBalsi was excited to be selected.
“It’s an honor to see myself in the same magazine as so many amazing athletes,” DeBalsi said. “I keep saying it’s so cool, there are no other words for it.”
If there was any deserving candidate for the award, DeBalsi checks all of the boxes. The superstar swept the FCIAC, Class LL, State Open and New England championships in cross country and holds a number of state records in the process. In the classroom, the bright student is second to none.
“One of the things I love about Hannah is how authentic she is,” Morgan said. “It’s easy to see she’s not into attention, and that’s the best type of person to give an award to. I think what made her a candidate for a whole video is that she is different, quirky and has a funny sense of humor.”
Never totally comfortable with the spotlight shined upon her for her outstanding accomplishments, DeBalsi will soon get to return to the place where she’s comfortable most. The FCIAC championships for indoor track are scheduled for Feb. 4, which will likely begin a quest for the nationals in the 2-mile.
“I’m excited,” DeBalsi said. “We’re using indoors to build for outdoor like we have the last couple of years. I’m excited to race.”