It took an uncomfortable-yet-familiar void to inspire Eric Hanna to finally put it all in writing.
A former Ohio State men’s basketball walk-on, Hanna had gone through the unusual experience of making the team as a freshman only to find that his spot was no longer available as a sophomore. Undeterred, the Canfield native made his way back to the team as a junior and saw meaningful minutes as a senior during the final season of St. John Arena.
Not long after, Hanna thought about turning his journey into a book. It didn’t work out. Then roughly 15 years later, when Hanna suddenly found himself outside of coaching shortly before the start of basketball season, he found himself revisiting the idea.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
That was about four years ago. The final product is “Fight to the End,” Hanna’s book detailing his basketball career from having little interest in the sport and not playing during some of his younger days to starting the final game at St. John Arena before the program officially moved to Value City Arena after the 1998-99 season.
“Ultimately what made me want to write a book was I felt like I had some good stories, especially as an eighth-grade teacher, to inspire kids,” Hanna told The Dispatch. “They’re transitioning from getting on those teams where everybody plays the same and everybody on the roster gets an opportunity. There’s a lot of kids challenged with that, ‘I’m on the team but I don’t play a whole lot or get to do a whole lot.’ I enjoy seeing kids work through those types of challenges. I felt like my story would help get that kid through those moments.”
Currently an American history teacher at Shanahan Middle School in the Olentangy district, Hanna said the feeling of seeing his story printed out reminded him of being back on the court again.
“To me, it’s just like walking on,” Hanna said. “Nobody expected me to do anything from a basketball standpoint. I just kept plugging at it and some good things happened, so I feel the same way about this. I want to get it in the hands of people who can be inspired by it.”
The book features a forward written by former teammate Scoonie Penn, now director of player development for the Buckeyes. The front cover is graced by a quote from program legend Clark Kellogg.
Inside, it details the ups and downs of a tumultuous time at Ohio State, from the giddiness of walking onto the team to the hollow feeling left by not being retained the following season. As a senior, Hanna helped the Buckeyes snap a 20-game Big Ten losing streak with two points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal during 10 minutes of playing time at Wisconsin. He followed that up by earning the start for the final game at St. John Arena.
Hanna earned a scholarship as a senior and was the team’s Fred Taylor and John Havlicek award winners that season.
“I remember the very first time I played at Indiana, where this is a college basketball-rich state in a historic arena with the band pumping and us going through our warmups and it hits you: I am a part of this,” he said. “It’s really exciting that it’s in print, my kids can see it, I can donate a few copies to some libraries. It’s exciting to be able to share the story.”
“Fight to the End” can be purchased on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, at campus-area Ohio State stores and via his website, fighttotheend.net.