HawkStrong: Lauren Gannon’s hard work as a Hawk leads to a national stage
HFC student-athlete Lauren Gannon made a pact with HFC assistant softball coach Jeff Laufenberg, whom she has known since she was age 10: If she played softball for HFC, he had to be there to coach.
Both kept their ends of the deal.
“It began with the Michigan Rage Fastpitch and continued for many years with Turnin2 Softball,” recalled Laufenberg. “One day, we both went to see a former Michigan Rage team member perform in a play. Afterward, Lauren asked me, ‘Coach, if I went to HFC, would you be there to coach me until I graduate?’ I enjoy coaching the Hawks, so I said yes.’”
Now Gannon is headed to a bigger stage. She will graduate from HFC this summer, earning her associate degree in general business. Then she will transfer to 2023 Division III National Softball Champion Trine University in Angola, IN. She will attend Trine on an academic scholarship and will work toward her bachelor’s degree in business administration.
The starting point: always giving 100%
Coach Steve Brown, HFC’s head softball coach, said it has been a pleasure to coach Gannon on the team.
“Lauren is a dedicated player who loves the game of softball,” he said. “I found her to be a great leader who did well on the field and in the classroom. She set an example on and off the field. She was All-NCCAA two years in a row. I admired her love of the game. She was incredibly dedicated and never complained once, always giving 100% in practice and in games.”
Both coaches found it fun to work with a player who loves the game so much, and who shows not only a great work ethic, but an understanding of teamwork both on and off the field.
"If it were up to her, she would be on a softball field each day fielding ground ball after ground ball until the sun goes down," said Laufenberg. "And she looks out for her teammates -- she even started a tradition by bringing Tim Hortons' Timbits to each of our games.”
“I loved playing for Coach Brown and Coach Laufenberg,” said Gannon. “Coach Brown made me feel at home. Whenever I was not on the field, I missed it and I craved to be out there. He is very approachable and understanding. And Coach Laufenberg will never give up on you. Many times he has talked to me just to see how i'm doing. He is a down-to-earth, caring person. He wants nothing but the best for everyone, and it shows.”
“I wanted that to be me”
The second of four children, Gannon grew up in Sumpter. She is a graduate of Airport High School in Carleton, where she played softball as a 3-year starting varsity player. She also played basketball and volleyball, and she was a member of the Interact Club.
Gannon has been playing sports since she was 5. It started with watching her older brother play baseball. She spent her early childhood endlessly hitting balls off a tee.
“Growing up, seeing all the older girls playing, I just knew I wanted that to be me too,” she said.
Gannon played Little League Tee Ball and in the Coach Pitch program, but quickly moved on to play travel softball. From ages 9-16, Gannon played for the Michigan Rage, then transferred to Turnin2 Softball. She began as a catcher but switched to shortstop.
Family environment, and nearly 4.0 GPA too
In 2020, she signed on to play softball at HFC, where she attended on an athletic scholarship. Some of her accomplishments at HFC:
- National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region
- All-Michigan Community College Athletic Association First Team
- Two-time member of the All-Conference Team
- NJCAA All-Academic Second Team
- MCCAA All-Academic Team
- Overall GPA of 3.96
“It has been an honor having Lauren as part of the HFC softball team and contributing to all the success the Hawks have had during the last three years. We had 20-plus wins each season and made the playoffs in two of the past three years!” said Laufenberg.
Gannon found something else in the experience, too. “The absolute best part about playing softball at HFC is the family that we created. The environment of just being home. A close second would be getting this opportunity to play and to be able to show who I am and what I love to do.”
Being featured on ESPN+ was one of the “absolute coolest things ever”
For the 2022-23 season, the Hawks finished third in the MCCAA Eastern Conference with a record of 17-13 and an overall season record of 21-17. One of the highlights of the season was being featured as the NJCCA Game of the Week on ESPN+.
“Appearing on ESPN was one of the most memorable moments of my life! It was one of the absolute coolest things I have ever been part of!” said Gannon. “I love how much exposure it gave this team. HFC has been on the way up these last few years. I cannot wait to come back to see what happens next. I will always support this team and these players, and I will be back to watch them play.”
Bringing out the best
“Although it will not be the same without having Lauren in a Hawk uniform, I’m very happy that she will be advancing her softball career at Trine, where she will continue to have an impact,” said Laufenberg. “Continue to be you, Lauren! We are going to miss you.”
Gannon said that her HFC experience gave her a path to growth and brought out the best in her. "I love the education I had at HFC. They push you to be your best and to strive in your major,” she said. “I would not be where I am today without the constant support I received from my family, friends, teammates, and coaches. I am especially grateful for the constant support from my parents and my grandma; they make everything worthwhile.”