How Bear Lake’s Hannah Harrington Created Her Dream

How Bear Lake’s Hannah Harrington Created Her Dream

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a three-part series on Bear Lake varsity women’s basketball coach Hannah Harrington.

October 31, 2022.

Hannah Harrington sits in the stands inside the Bear Lake High School gym for the first game of the MHSAA Division 4 district volleyball tournament between the Lakers and the Brethren.

Ten years to the day he wore red and white, he helped Bear Lake win 25-22, 25-22, 25-16 over cross-town rival Onekama. The Lakers would, ironically, fall to the Bobcats 13-25, 24-26, 10-25 for the district title in 2012 and fall 20-25, 13-25, 13-25 to the same team a decade later.

To read the second part of the series, check out the November 9 edition of the Manistee News Advocate or visit

But a lot has changed between those two postseason volleyball meetings played by the county’s foes. The Star Wars franchise has seen three new chapters brought to the big screen. The iPhone 5 was upgraded to the iPhone 14. The five members of One Direction went their own directions in life.

Much has changed for Harrington as well, but some things remain the same. She is still the quiet hand for girls’ sports at Cody Street School, but her knowledge and life experiences have shaped her into who she is today.

In 2022 she is no longer Bear Lake’s star athlete. Instead, she serves as Bear Lake’s selfless servant.

But her path to her role was forged through physical, mental and emotional pain.

Harrington has dreamed of playing college basketball for as long as she can remember: the team atmosphere, togetherness and lessons learned along the way made her fall head over heels in love with the sport.

Hannah Harrington (24) of Bear Lake tries to shoot.

Hannah Harrington (24) of Bear Lake tries to shoot.

“She always wanted a basketball,” said Karen, Hannah’s mother. “She always had a little earring when she (she was) very little. And then in third grade, she really wanted to try to get into camp. So I started taking her to different camps.”

Being at a school with an enrollment just over the 100-student plateau, Harrington was able to try out any sport Bear Lake had to offer. While he excelled in volleyball, softball, and track throughout his high school career, his love for basketball trumped everything else.

Scott Brown, then Bear Lake’s head coach, described Hannah as an all-round team player.

“She would play any position with no fuss or fuss, or on my terms pissing and moaning,” Brown said. “She was an inside force with an outside shot. She was a good player in every way, much loved by her teammates”.

But her impact for the rojiblanca was not felt putting the ball in the basket alone. Brown noted that Lakers teams at the time did not require a true leader or captain, instead choosing to play at the same level.

But Hannah was never afraid to serve others by uplifting those around her.

“We always try to help each other,” Brown said. “But Hannah was one of those that if someone was falling behind, she would go the extra mile to maybe help them do that on her account or on her account. (Offering) moral support or helping them with their physical attributes in terms of learning how to do something.”

According to Karen, her daughter performed like a sensible player regardless of the situation.

“Everyone told me that she was the glue that held them together,” Karen said. “Because if they were down by a point or two, they would always make sure to get it to Hannah. She might be excited, but when she was on the court she got the job done.

“She just never gave up.”

The Lakers women’s basketball program experienced new success during Harrington’s four years with the varsity program. They claimed the West Michigan D League title in 2012. In 2013 they went 18-6, defeating Frankfort for the district title 47-26. They later defeated their county rival Manistee Catholic Central, who defeated them for the 2012 district title, 50-47 to advance to the regional title game, falling to Gaylord St Mary 39-23.

Bear Lake's Hannah Harrington (24) commits a foul during a game.

Bear Lake’s Hannah Harrington (24) commits a foul during a game.

The 2013–14 season saw the Lakers go 16–3 in the regular season and play their third straight game for the district title. It would be the last game Harrington wore a Bear Lake basketball jersey. The team fell to the Panthers 45-35, ending a run that saw her eclipse the 1,000-point threshold.

Although her time as a standout high school basketball player came to an end, the next chapter was ready to be written. Despite suffering a torn meniscus during his junior year of high school, Harrington had a desire to play at Lake Superior State or Spring Arbor, a private Free Methodist college.

With his twin brother Seth ready to enroll in Spring Arbor and the school that would allow Hannah to continue her faith, he embarked on his dream of playing college basketball.

“I was ready for the next chapter of our life, which I think a lot of older people are in at that point,” Hannah said. “I worked hard that summer and you feel like it all finally paid off. All the hard work and lessons you learned in high school with your teammates and everything you’ve accomplished there. Going to the next level was amazing.”

Little did he know that his dream would come to an unpredictable end.

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