Danielle Hagler writing her chapter in family, North Star legacy
The last name Hagler is one that hung around the gym at North Star High School for quite some time.
North Star superintendent, athletic director, and former boy's basketball head coach Jeff Hagler coached the Bearcats to a Class B state title in 2011. That year Jake Hagler was Mr. Basketball Finalist and Class B Player of the Year before going to play at Jamestown.
Before Marla Hagler was the assistant coach of the volleyball team, she was in the head coaching position for North Star, coaching her squad to the program's first state championship in 2014. Marla also had one of her children by her side during that state title run as Sarah Hagler would play a key role in North Star's title. She would move on to play at Minnesota State Moorhead.
However, there was someone there during all that time. She wasn't on the court competing but was in the stands during games and hanging around during practices. North Star junior middle blocker Danielle Hagler was there the entire time and is now writing her chapter with the Bearcats.
Similar to her siblings, Hagler has proven to be a leader on the court through her performance and motivating her teammates. Her passion for the game and her teammates has been so strong that she has been named team captain as a junior.
"I've always tried to be the leader on the teams I've played on and I think the captain needs to keep everybody on the court positive," Hagler said. "It means a lot to have that role. When people look for a captain they look at me and it just means a lot to have that role."
The decision to make Hagler team captain was an easy one for head coach Aubree Page. Page has seen Hagler come up through the program, as she started two years before Hagler's beginnings at North Star, and knew what she was capable of. However, her status as a junior, and not a senior, made the choice as captain a little bolder than usual.
"I've been watching her for years and coaching her for numerous years, so knowing she's a leader before this season stood out to me," Page said. "I went back and forth between picking seniors, which there's seven of them, and I know with COVID that they only want one person in that position...Where I'm from we pick our captains, so I felt like I needed to change it up.
Hagler's presence around her siblings, specifically Sarah, and around the game was abundant growing up. She went to practice every day with her mom, and still does, and would sometimes head out to more head to help her sister with training. When her time came to join the North Star program in eighth grade, she couldn't have been more excited.
"For as long as I can remember, I've been in the gym playing," Hagler said. "It was a lot of fun to watch my sister when I was younger. I always wanted to be that person out there and when it was finally my turn I was so excited for that. I just love to play volleyball."
The excitement has transformed into a drive to win every time Halger and the Bearcats take the court. Hagler said she likes to win and will do whatever she can to help her team get there. Her presence has pushed the Bearcats to an 8-2 record on the season and atop of the Region 4 standings.
When the Bearcats are in tight games or where they might be down, where mistakes prove costly, Hagler is making her team is level-headed and holding that same competitive drive until they finish.
"I just make sure they stay focused and if someone makes an error that they just try to move on," Hagler said. "Everyone is going to make mistakes, it's just part of the game. We need to fight to the last point and never give up."
In toe-to-toe games, Hagler has come up big for North Star. In the Bearcats upset of then No. 9 Our Redeemers, she would post 27 kills and 25 digs in the effort. In a five-set loss to Grafton, Hagler would leave it all out there with 32 kills and 37 digs. A week prior to that matchup, she had recorded her 1500th kill, and she still has a year and a half left with the Bearcats.
"On the court, she gets excited and has great focus," Page said. "She's always talking to her teammates, which makes a big difference. There are people that don't talk too much and just having that positive feedback to your teammates is helpful to them."
While Hagler has helped immensely on the defensive end, she has been a lock on the front row for the Bearcats. In some games, the power over her spikes has knocked some of her opponents off their feet. Her performance has also been complemented by senior middle blocker Mackenzie Gleason and senior outside hitter Sydney Staus, who also been active on the Bearcats front line.
"She's defiantly a dominating factor on the front row," Page said. "If we can get pass up, we have a strong chance of getting a kill out her. That's some major help for our team."
North Star is a little over halfway through their schedule and is holding down the top spot in the Region 4 standings. However, the Bearcats have one more challenger to face who has been a thorn in their side for a while: Langdon/Edmore/Munich. The Regional title game has come down to the Bearcats and the Cardinals in recent years and the Cardinals have had the edge.
While North Star has held it down at the top, L/E/M is on the rise, knocking off No. 1 Thompson on Saturday. The two meet in the regular-season finale on Nov. 2 in Cando, previewing what could be the regional title game.
In watching, her siblings go the distance and win state championships, Hagler knows that she wants to be in that position and work as hard as she can to help her team get there.
"My family members have always taught me to work hard and have been in winning programs," Hagler said. "I've always wanted to be like them and they've shown me how to work hard. I want to live up to how they did it too. I wouldn't be here without their support."
North Star volleyball schedule
Oct. 26 vs. Cavalier
Oct. 27 vs. Dunseith
Oct. 29 at Rolette/Wolford
Nov. 2 vs. No. 4 Langdon/Edmore/Munich