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Binghamton's All-Around Ace: Megan Hoag
By Anthony G. Naglieri, Binghamton Sports Information

The old adage says the jack of all trades is the master of none. Clearly, no one has explained this to Megan Hoag.

A standout in the classroom, on the court and across campus, the senior volleyball player not only does it all, but does it all incredibly well.

As an incoming freshman she was one of only 120 students to be chosen as Binghamton Scholars, an all-university honors program for students of exceptional merit. Even within this challenging program of studies, the upperclassmen's star has shined bright.

The psychology major carries a sterling 3.9 grade point average and is a member of the prestigious Golden Key and Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Societies.

"She is an extraordinarily talented, incisive and articulate young lady," attested Binghamton University Associate Professor of Physics Robert Pompi, who crossed paths with Megan while teaching a scholars seminar on abstract physics. "Even within such a select group, she really stood out."

Despite never having any formal exposure to psychology before college, Hoag feels she has truly found her calling in the subject.

"I found that when I was playing sports and dealing with people, I was often very interested in people's motivations and why they chose to act in certain ways," she explained. "I was always the person that wanted to know what made other people 'tick'."

Her deep intellectual curiosity has paid many dividends.

"I am extremely glad that I chose to major in this field. I cannot emphasize enough how often it has proved valuable in athletics and I definitely believe that it has made me a more effective leader and captain on the court."

The charismatic senior's list of accomplishments also extends beyond classroom walls as well, where she has become engaged in many aspects of both the athletic and campus communities.

She is an active community service volunteer and member of Peer:PRIDE. Led by a group of student-athlete mentors, Peer:Pride is the community outreach branch of Binghamton's athletic department. Additionally, she currently serves as an advocate for her fellow athletes as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for the Bearcat volleyball team.

To top it all off, she is slated to graduate a full semester early this December. Along the way, Hoag's successes have also spilled onto the volleyball court.

For four years, Hoag, a two-time captain and all-conference middle blocker, has been a mainstay in Binghamton's lineup.

"Megan was an easy choice to be captain of our squad the past two years," head coach Glenn Kiriyama said. "She is the consummate student-athlete. No one works harder at what she does, whether it is in the weight room, on the court, or in her studies."

Since her freshman season, Hoag has finished among the team leaders in nearly every major category. A dominant force on the service line, she finished 2005 ranked 25th in the nation in service aces per game.

Last season, on a young squad without any seniors, her leadership was a key cog in the program's magical run that saw Binghamton capture its first-ever America East Conference championship and subsequent berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Very fittingly, it was Binghamton's floor leader who delivered a resonant ace on the championship point to punch the school's ticket into the field of 64.

"It was a remarkable moment in my career," recounted Hoag. "I will always remember that final point and all the screaming and celebrating that ensued. It was truly the best ending I could've ever asked for"

As far as future plans are concerned, having grown up around volleyball and equipped with a drive to help others succeed, Megan hopes to remain involved with the game.

"I just love the sport. It has done so much for me and opened so many doors that I would really love to stay involved in some capacity, perhaps at the high school level," said Hoag. "Especially growing up, my coaches were very influential in my life and I would like to be able to have a chance to be that figure in somebody else's life."

For any student, athlete or not, this exhaustive list of accolades indeed speaks loudly. Yet it is not always her achievements that draw the most attention from those who know her. Instead, it is her tireless work ethic, unwavering dedication, and magnetic personality that resonate most strongly.

"Megan is a wonderful young lady and a terrific role model," expressed health and wellness lecturer Jen Wegmann. "Determination, drive, and enthusiasm…she has it all!"

On the surface, Hoag appears to make easy work of her full plate of responsibilities; however, the taxing lifestyle of a student-athlete is not without its sacrifices.

"Being a collegiate athlete definitely demands a lot of dedication and time management," Hoag said. "If you don't take advantage any free moments you might have, you're going to get behind very quickly."

With her free time at such a premium, there was little choice but to embrace the "on-the-go" lifestyle.

"There's no time to waste when your days are so packed," she expounded. "I have sort of become famous for running in and out of the dining halls and coming to class all decked out in spandex and ice bags taped up everywhere."

She credits her upbringing with laying the necessary foundation to successfully juggle her frenetic daily routine.

"My parents always urged my sisters and me to get involved as possible," said Hoag. "Whether in sports or school, they didn't want to raise daughters that just sat on the sidelines."

Megan's older sister, Rachel, once tackled similar obstacles, having graduated with all-conference academic and volleyball honors from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, a Division-II school in North Carolina. Were it not for her sister's guidance, Megan doesn't believe she'd be where she is today.

"Rachel definitely has been the biggest influence both as a player and as a person. She showed me what it would take if I wanted to play college volleyball and be successful. I've relied on her for advice on everything from dealing with daily aches and pains to becoming a better leader."

While the majority of her free time is spent hitting the books, she always makes sure to leave herself some room at the end of her day to "de-stress". Several times a week this release takes the form of music - her lifelong passion.

"Playing music has always been my favorite form of stress relief," exclaimed Hoag. "I remember my mom used to say that she could tell how nervous I was about an upcoming game by how long and intensely I would play the piano beforehand."

Since elementary school, the multi-talented scholar has played both the piano and French horn. When asked to choose which instrument she preferred most, however, she was hard-pressed to come up with an answer.

"Well, whether it is piano or French horn, it usually depends on whether I want to wake up my roommates up or not," she bellowed with laughter.

While career ambitions in the field never took flight, her zeal for music has been rekindled as a member of the Binghamton Pep Band.

The organization, which performs at both Binghamton men's and women's home basketball games as well as a number of on-campus events, has provided Hoag with an outlet for musical expression as well as an opportunity to promote school spirit. It also doesn't hurt that the band starts up after the fall athletic season.

"My friend had told me they could use an extra French horn player and it really just took off from there," Hoag said. "It's not that time consuming which is a definite plus and it gives me the opportunity not only to play, but also to support my fellow athletes, which is great!"

Beyond this winter, she also hopes to enter a clinical psychology Ph.D. program and specialize in health psychology.

"Ideally, I'd love to assist people who've suffered illnesses or injuries to regain control of their lives through treatment or rehabilitation," she explained. "This can be an especially trying time in people's lives and I believe that having someone to help them and their family cope with such issues can be truly invaluable."

While the admission to such programs is tremendously competitive (acceptance rates as low as 2 or 3 percent), no one is counting out this jack of all trades.

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