As with everything in life, Hannah Behrmann has been able to learn through the help of many people, including her family, her friends, and her volleyball coaches. Hannah’s parents encouraged her brothers and her to try lots of sports and activities when they were younger so that they could explore their passions. When she was ten, she participated in a volleyball practice and fell in love with the sport.
Like many inventions, Hannah’s started with trying to overcome a struggle. A few years ago when she was developing her setting skills her coach, and director at Carolina Union Volleyball Club John Brannon, taped her two pointer fingers and two thumbs together during lessons to help her work on proper setting technique and hand and wrist strength. She started to do the same thing when she practiced at home, but it took a good bit of time and tape to do this every day. Hannah began brainstorming different ways to replicate the tape.
“In true innovator fashion, I started drawing on a napkin and then bought pairs of sports gloves to glue together to accomplish the same shape and structure as the tape. That evolved into testing with additional types of gloves and ways to secure the fingers” states Hannah.
Hannah had several other setters and coaches in the club test the prototypes to provide feedback. Later, she was introduced to Mr. Louis Foreman at Enventys, which is an intellectual property development company in Charlotte. Ironically, he got his start in inventing through developing sporting goods equipment as well. He offered Hannah an internship to further develop the product with the designers and engineers at Enventys.
“I had developed several advanced prototypes and created a manufacturing packet right before the Covid pandemic hit. The pandemic has significantly slowed the supply chain process, but I hope to have the first full run of gloves available this summer. It has been amazing to work through the development of a new product for market” adds Hannah.
Hannah decided to pursue a patent for the training gloves, which has helped her learn much more about articulating the functional value of a design and the overall process of obtaining a patent. The pandemic has slowed down the process, but junior setter is working with the US Patent Office to protect her product.
When her sophomore club season was cut short last year that was a huge downer, but her club made sure there were safe ways for her team to continue to develop. Hannah feels it is because of her club’s dedication to the sport and players during COVID when nothing else was normal that her teammates and she stayed connected through volleyball. She practiced at home with her family, on video with her club coaches, in private lessons, and now finally with her school and club teams. CUVC’s Director of Player Development, Abbi Hayes, provided her with weekly private lessons, 30+ hours of zoom training, and at home training plans and strength and conditioning training. CUVC also provided video breakdown sessions and volleyball strategy sessions.
“When I look back over my time playing volleyball, I have seen how much effort it takes just to continue playing at a high level” shares Hannah. “As a result, I have a much better understanding of what it means to take a “long view” about something and to plan accordingly – it is goal setting and regular evaluation, it is constant support and correction, it is having your priorities constantly tested and reconsidered, and it is sacrificing opportunities to stay true to your goal. Along the way, I have learned to lead in big and small ways.”
Hannah began to help with her community’s COVID response where she volunteered with physicians and leaders at Atrium Health to build home monitoring kits for patients who have, or are suspected to have, COVID-19.
During this same time, and partially as a result of this experience and other research and design opportunities in school, Hannah has decided to pursue Biomedical Engineering as her undergraduate training. She hopes to apply what she is learning about user needs, translating those to a functional design, piloting and modifying the design based on feedback, and finally manufacturing and product adoption.
“Ultimately, I know that I have benefited from the training glove – in my hand formation, positioning and hand and wrist strength. I have learned a lot through this process that will help me out in the future, but I also think the training gloves would be a great benefit especially to younger setters as well. I am excited about getting the gloves onto the hands of other players.”
Hannah believes that staying focused on academic achievement, volleyball development, and helping others has guided her through the pandemic. She is currently in the top 5 out of 550 students at her high school with a rigorous academic schedule, that includes (AP) and Honors courses.
“Hybrid learning at school has completely changed my schedule, but I try to look at the positives and see that I was given additional time to research my interests, virtual tour with colleges, study for the ACT, and take online classes that I normally would not have time for, like a music appreciation course and self-defense courses” shares Hannah.
Hannah has also played the piano since fourth grade, and it gives her a way to express herself artistically while competing in festivals, playing at nursing homes (pre-COVID), and currently performing at church services.
“I have an unequivocal responsibility to pay it forward. The people in my life that learn and then give back to help others are my role models, and this includes my family, friends, teachers, and coaches” says Hannah.
Hannah will pursue a career in pediatric surgery, and we are confident that what she’s learned along her journey as a volleyball student-athlete thus far, such as planning, working together, and persevering, will help her in all other areas of her life.
Carolina Union Volleyball Club s a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for players, coaches, clubs and fans.