Kane County Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year: Geneva’s Rilee Hasegawa used grit, toughness in three sports

Florida Southern College soccer commit scored 16 goals, was starter for Vikings’ basketball team

Geneva’s Rilee Hasegawa (left) and St. Charles North’s Lauren Balster (right) go after the ball during a Class 3A West Chicago Sectional semifinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Never mind Rilee Hasegawa’s 5-foot-2 height.

What the Geneva graduate may lack in size, Hasegawa more than makes up for with grit and toughness. Those traits shine brightly on whatever surface she plays on. Whether going up in a scrum for a loose ball or dancing her way over and under screens from a pick-and-roll, Hasegawa is going to find a way – any way – to beat whatever stands in her way.

“That’s a huge part of my mentality,” Hasegawa said. “Every time I step on the field, I want to show [opponents] that just because I’m short, don’t count me out. I feel like I can show that with my skill, too.”

Hasegawa, a two-year starter on Geneva’s varsity basketball team, three-year varsity soccer player and a tennis player, found a way to be impactful in whatever sport she chose.

Hasegawa was part of the Vikings’ No. 4 doubles tennis duo, started at guard in basketball for a Geneva team that finished third in Class 4A and helped pace the Geneva soccer team to its first regional title since 2017.

Voted soccer Team MVP and a Florida Southern College soccer signee, Hasegawa had 16 goals and 11 assists in the spring. On the basketball court, she averaged 6.2 points, 2.5 assists and shot 45% from the 3-point line for the DuKane Conference, regional and sectional champions.

Considering Hasegawa’s athletic resume for her senior year, she is the 2022-23 Kane County Chronicle Female Athlete of the Year.

Geneva's Rilee Hasegawa sprints into the lane as Hersey's KiKi Craft defends during the Class 4A third place game on Friday, March 3, 2023 at CEFCU Arena in Normal.

“She’s obviously a phenomenal athlete in all of them, but I feel like the soccer field is where she really shines,” Geneva soccer coach Megan Owens said. “Her work ethic is unmatched. She just has an engine that keeps going.

“She gets knocked down and she bounces right back up. I think her ability to play both sides of the ball is phenomenal. If she loses possession, she immediately gets in there and tries to get it back.”

Owens, the varsity coach at Geneva for 15 years, said Hasegawa’s ability to take on opposing players one-on-one is “really special.”

“It’s so much fun to watch,” Owens said. “All the other coaches who see her just remark what a fun player she is to watch because you don’t see that a lot these days. She’s fearless when it comes to taking players on one-on-one.

“She has amazing foot skills and she’s also versatile. She shines at midfield, but we’ve played her up top. We’ve had to play her at center back before. She will stand out no matter where you put her on the field, which most athletes can’t do; they have a specialty. … I can’t speak highly enough of her.”

Geneva's Rilee Hasegawa (0) drives to the basket during Class 4A Glenbard West Sectional final game between Geneva at Batavia.  Feb 23, 2023.

Hasegawa looked back fondly on her time representing Geneva.

“I just love all of Geneva’s programs, really,” Hasegawa said. “It’s such a [tradition-rich] feel for each sport. There’s own perks and own family. For tennis, it was so fun. I met so many new people. It was such a great experience.

“Basketball, it’s always such a great program, especially ran by [coach Sarah] Meadows. It’s always a great atmosphere. Soccer is such [a] family that I’ve connected with everyone, even with the short seasons and all.”