By Blake Ells
Vestavia Hills senior volleyball star Hannah Vines had a busy summer. She and Bayside Academy’s Sam Koby were selected to represent Alabama at the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Student Leadership Summit.
NFHS Executive Director Bob Gardner kicked off the summit, which was held July 23-25 in Indianapolis, with a message that Vines said was the most important she heard during the summit.
“If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you,” she recited. “That’s the biggest thing that I took away from that conference.”
Otherwise, she said that meeting other kids from across the U.S. was a highlight of the trip.
“We’re all different, because we’re all from different parts of the country. But it was also cool to see how we’re all the same. We’re all just teenagers trying to find our way,” Vines said.
The trip’s origins can be traced back to March, when Vestavia Hills principal Tyler Burgess and athletics director Jeff Segars first chose Vines to represent the school at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Student Leadership Conference. It was there that she and Koby were chosen from among 18 students to represent the state at the NFHS summit.
Vines’ service began early in life, largely because of her dedication to her church, Shades Mountain Baptist. She was serving others through vacation Bible school as early as elementary school, involvement that has continued all the way to her first foreign mission trip to Guatemala earlier this year.
She’s been passionate about Spanish since middle school, and the opportunity to reach kids in a Spanish-speaking country was exciting for her. It’s something she plans to do again next spring.
“It was cool to go down there and learn more and to be immersed in the language,” she said. “It was also cool to work with kids. That was my favorite service work I’ve ever done.”
She’s also heavily involved in the Literacy Club at Vestavia Hills High School. Each year, the club has a book drive to collect books for local kids.
“We also take part each year in ‘Birmingham Reads,’” she said. “We take a day off from school and we go around to different inner city schools and read to young students. I really enjoy being involved in that.”
Ready for Season Play
Her service isn’t limited to her community. She’s also one of six seniors returning this year to play on the volleyball team, which just returned from a retreat in Florida. They made their goals clear, and they’re eager to top last season’s super regional run.
“We all came up with a word that we want to represent this season, and the word that we came up with was ‘sacrifice,’” she said. “We decided that if we hope to really make a difference from years’ past, we all need to be willing to sacrifice our time, our bodies and our attitude to get what we want. Our goal is to make it to state. We haven’t made it to state in a couple of years, and that’s our goal for this season. We want to get past super regionals and make it to state.”
She won’t have to spend her senior season sweating where she’ll go to college; Vines has already signed to join Samford University’s squad in the fall of 2019. It’s a decision that worked for her on a lot of levels, since it will allow her to stay near the church congregation with which she has grown to be so heavily involved.
Samford’s coaching staff is supportive of her educational path even though it will be time-consuming.
“I was very interested in going into pharmacy school,” she said. “Other schools really didn’t like that. The schedule was ‘too hard to work around.’ Samford was really flexible with that. And they offer so many other courses that are faith-based and allow me to continue to do mission work. Samford was the perfect fit.”
Vestavia Hills opens its 2018 season at Hoover on Aug. 23.