After rehabilitating her ankle injury and a summer working in Barcelona, women’s basketball forward Frannie Hottinger returned to Lehigh with a new perspective, ready to make the most out of her senior season this year.
For Hottinger, however, making the most out of her season means something different than it did before her injury and time away from the sport.
Back in December 2021, during the middle of her junior season, Hottinger was out sick with COVID-19. Upon her return, she sustained an ankle injury that, combined with her time spent in quarantine, put her on the sidelines for an extra six weeks.
“I was out for a really pivotal part of the season in conference play,” Hottinger said. “The team had really progressed while I was out and found a way to play without me, so that was hard to integrate back into.”
She said she struggled with confidence after her time out, so she knew it would be critical to come back to the sport with the right mentality. She said letting her body recover was the first step to seeing the bigger picture of basketball and playing with a clearer mindset.
To do so, she spent her summer working at a Lehigh-affiliated internship in Barcelona.
Throughout her internship in Barcelona, Hottinger said she worried about missing summer basketball workouts, since she knew her teammates would either be working out at Lehigh or at home, but she soon realized the time abroad was what she needed to reset her mentality to prepare for the upcoming season.
“My mindset going into the season was more based on wanting to have fun, be a good leader, work hard, control things I can control and not put pressures on myself that are really hard to fulfill,” Hottinger said.
She said she’s had successful seasons where she was and was not awarded accolades, and that is how she realized awards aren’t everything.
“If you’re not having fun with your teammates and not happy with who you are as a person or (don’t) have an identity outside of basketball, it’s not that great,” Hottinger said.
The relationships she’s fostered with her teammates and her presence as a leader on the court have not gone unnoticed.
Freshman walk-on guard Kamara St. Paul said Hottinger played a big part in easing her difficult transition to the sport, and that she was one of the first people St. Paul spoke to when she was in the process of joining the team.
“She has invited me places to go with her and watch games, so getting to know her on a personal level has been really nice,” St. Paul said.
St. Paul said Hottinger has also been a huge help as a guide on the court, since she’s willing to share her experience and knowledge of the game.
“She’s really a leader by example in terms of how she works,” junior guard Mackenize Kramer said. “It’s really inspiring to have someone on our team who just genuinely loves basketball and is so driven to get better at it, which makes you and everyone around her want to get better at it.”
Along with her leadership role on the team, she is also a team leader in points and rebounds, having collected over 100 offensive rebounds and over 200 defensive rebounds throughout her career.
In her sophomore season, Hottinger was selected for the Second Team All-Patriot League and the Academic All-Patriot League for both establishing herself as a dominant scoring threat and maintaining 3.94 academic GPA at the same time.
“She just brings a sense of grit and determination,” Kramer said. “I’ve watched her grow and push herself to be a better leader, teammate and overall player.”
As the season continues, Hottinger said she has her end goal in the back of her mind: being able to miss the games, her teammates and the whole experience once it comes to a close.
“A lot of times student athletes are done with their sport and are like, ‘Oh, thank gosh I’m done,’” Hottinger said. “At the end of the season, I want to be able to look back on it and be mad that I can’t play another game in a Lehigh jersey.”
The Mountain Hawks’ next play away on De. 3 against the La Salle.