By Kyle Daubs

When Mallie Hanner lost her junior season to COVID, it made her realize one thing. 

That she absolutely loved soccer. 

Despite not playing last spring season, the Charleston High School senior did enough to impress Dan Vogelsang and the Parkland College staff.

“After everything got canceled, I reached out to them asking them what I could do to show them how much I wanted to play for them,” said Hanner. “I was determined to play in college and I think that’s what made me stick out to them.”

Hanner officially signed her letter of intent to continue her soccer program with the NJCAA Division II school in Champaign. She believes that she will be used primarily in the midfield and could be rotated between the center and outside midfield, depending on what formation the coaches intend to use. 

“I signed with Parkland because it’s a good place for a transition between high school and college,” said Hanner. “It’s away from home, but not too far. It’s in a bigger area, but not huge. It just overall felt like the right step for me after high school. I will be able to continue playing the game I’ve loved since I was five.”

Hanner, who played forward and midfield, scored five goals and recorded six assists during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

“I could tell immediately that Mallie was a special player during preseason her freshman year,” Charleston coach Josh Garrett said. “She proved me right and scored an impact goal in the first game, which helped us win a big tournament to start the year. I told her that I was confident that she could play college soccer and she hasn’t looked back.  She’s worked hard to make this a reality. I think Parkland is a good fit for her and I’m excited to see what she’ll do there. Mallie missed her junior year due to the pandemic and I expect that she’ll come ready to play at a high level for her senior year. She will certainly be one of the leaders on the team.”

Parkland’s 2020-2021 fall season was moved to the spring due to the pandemic. In 2019, the Cobras finished 3-11 overall and 1-2 in the Mid-West Athletic Conference. Parkland hasn’t posted a winning record since 2017 after going 8-7-2. 

“I’m hoping to make the program better just by simply working as hard as possible,” said Hanner. “After getting my junior season canceled, it made me realize how much I love soccer and how lucky I am to get to play. I’ll never take a second on the field for granted again.”

Hanner thanked Garrett, as well as former CHS players Brooke Tozer and Ali Carlson, who serve as assistant coaches. Tozer played for two seasons with Parkland. 

“They were the first people to tell me college was even an option for me my freshman year,” said Hanner. “My travel team Illinois Futbol Club in Champaign completely changed me as a player, pushing me to play at a high level. I want to thank my parents. They drove me for hours and hours to practices and tournaments.”