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Saturday, October 01, 2022
<p>Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.</p>

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.

Haley Lorenzen is entering her second season with the Gators, having been named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team last year.

For most, that’s quite an accomplishment. For Lorenzen, the athletic achievements of her parents have left her with a lot more to live up to.

Lorenzen doesn’t just come from any all-american family — she comes from the all-american family.

Her father, Al Lorenzen, was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 1984 before going on to play at the University of Iowa.

Haley’s mother, Karen Napolitano, was a First-Team All-American while playing field hockey at the University of Iowa in 1986 — a year that also included a national championship for the Hawkeyes.

It would come as no surprise that the daughter of such a pair would be incredibly talented and athletic, and that’s certainly the case with Haley.

Back in high school, she was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Iowa Girls Basketball Player of the Year — an accomplishment that she calls the most important of her high school career.

"I think my greatest accomplishment was being Gatorade Player of the Year from Iowa just because it’s such a prestigious award," she said.

"It takes into account your grades, your impact on the community and also your athleticism."

To begin to understand Haley Lorenzen, a good place to start is that very quote.

That particular award was important to her not only because it recognized her as a good basketball player, but because it recognized her as a well-rounded person. She casually throws the word "athleticism" on there at the end, like the cherry atop a proverbial sundae.

Unlike the Gatorade award, All-American athletes are usually voted on by members of the media who very rarely take into account anything beyond performance and athletic ability.

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And while Lorenzen has the talent to join her parents as an All-American during her time at UF, perhaps in her mind there’s more to being all-american than being named an All-American.

Take, for example, what her mother said of what the recruiting process was like for her daughter.

"If you’ve met Haley, she’s a really earnest kid, so she tried to return every e-mail and every phone call — it was ungodly. And then the kid was up until 11:30, 12 o’clock every night returning e-mails to coaches," she said.

"For all of the schools that were in her top ten, she called all of the coaches herself to tell them her decision."

Earnest is defined as "resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction." For Haley, that conviction is to being who she is without worrying about the athletic accomplishments of her parents.

However, it hasn’t always been that way.

"For a while when I was younger, it was a lot of pressure," she said.

"Playing sports wasn’t as fun that way, and so I talked with both my parents and they’re like ‘Haley, we know you’re gonna do great things. You don’t have to do the same things we did, you don’t have to do that, but we just want you to be yourself.’ And that within itself was so freeing."

Napolitano feels that even though her daughter was never pressured to live up to the lofty standards of her parents, Lorenzen will still surpass their athletic achievements down the road.

"Haley’s kinda funny. She’s a kid that’s done so much, but the thing sometimes that wavers with her is her own confidence. I’ve often said to her that I honestly think she’ll be better than both of us and she sometimes shakes her head and I think she’s starting to believe that," Napolitano said.

When it comes to her future, Haley has her sights set on the WNBA.

However, given the choice, her legacy as a Gator is going to be one that puts the team’s importance and success over her own.

"We walk in here every day and we see the WNBA players up there, the All-Americans and the people who played on the olympic team and things like that," she said.

"But the legacy I wanna leave is how I positively impacted people and how much the team improved. Like, yeah, it would be amazing to be up on there with coach (Muriel) Page and DeLisha Milton-Jones and things like that but at the end of the day, I just wanna make this program better."

While living up to the All-American status of her family would be ideal for Lorenzen, it’s far from the most important thing she wants to accomplish.

Her mother, for her part, said that she would love to see Haley bestowed with that honor because she works so hard, among other things that most parents would say about their daughters.

Lorenzen would likely agree, but keeping true to her convictions, her ultimate goal for her time as a Gator has nothing to do with herself and everything to do with those around her.

"We walk into the complex every day. We see all these trophies, right? Not one of them is ours. So for me, that’s winning an SEC title and hopefully an NCAA championship."

 Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.

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