Determination has taken Caesar Rodney’s Hansen a long way

Senior Haley Hansen was a team captain in both field hockey and basketball for the Riders this school year. (Delaware State News file photo)

MAGNOLIA — Playing sports didn’t always come easily for Haley Hansen.

She was never the tallest or fastest. Still, as a kid, playing basketball was her “heart and soul.”

But Hansen was cut from the Postlethwait Middle School squad as a sixth-grader. She made the team in seventh grade but ended up quitting for a variety of reasons.

Five years later, Hansen still remembers how it felt walking away on the day she quit.

“I remember leaving the gym,” she said. “It was cold out. It was really traumatic for me.

“I promised myself from then on that I was going to do better, one way or another. … I just kind of made that commitment — from here on out, nothing’s going to stop me. I’m going to do this for myself and my family.”

And as Hansen’s mom, Michelle, will tell you, once her daughter makes up her mind about something, it’s pretty hard to sidetrack her.

Now a senior at Caesar Rodney High, Hansen fulfilled her dream of being a three-sport athlete. She played varsity field hockey, basketball and lacrosse for the Riders.

And in the sport she once quit — basketball — Hansen ended up being a team captain this past winter.

Her determination is why CR chose the Magnolia resident to be its representative for the Delaware Women’s Alliance for Sport and Fitness Women in Sports Day this spring.

“She represents everything we talk about with being an athlete,” said Riders’ girls’ lacrosse coach Caty Beron. “It’s about being a good teammate, about pushing yourself to be better every day, about being a good sport even when you don’t want to be or a call doesn’t go your way, being able to pull yourself back up — not only to set a good example for yourself but to set a good example for your teammates.”

A National Honor Society member, Hansen was probably never going to be an All-State caliber athlete. But, in its own way, that made her determination to play three sports even more impressive.

Beron said it’s always rewarding to work with someone who just wants to make themselves better all the time.

“She’s such a coachable kid,” said Beron. “You could suggest something, ‘Hey, why don’t you try it this way?’ or she’s like, ‘Hey, this isn’t working, can you show me another way?’ She works until she gets it.

“She may not be the person that is putting the goals on the scoreboard. But she is that kid who is such an important piece to any team. She just works hard.”

Maybe the thing that says the most about Hansen’s personality is that her dream now is to make a career in a sport she’s never played — football.

Actually, she wanted to try playing football when she first got to CR. Her parents even approached Riders’ coach Dan Candeloro with the idea.

While Candeloro wasn’t against Hansen giving it a try, in the end, everyone agreed that it wasn’t going to work for safety reasons. That didn’t end her love of football, however.

Haley Hansen, who’s going to college at LSU, hopes to find a career in football. (Submitted photo)

Now Hansen is trying to work her way into football operations or maybe even coaching the sport. That’s one reason she’s headed for a big school — LSU — in the fall.

“She’s just a very determined child,” said Michelle Hansen. “And hard-headed sometimes. But, you know what? That’s kind of what she needed to reach her goals.

“I think because she’s so determined, she’s going to get to where she wants to, one way or the other — I hope.”

“She’s an all-around great kid,” said Beron. “I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Hansen has done more than simply hope for a career in football, though. She’s already started working toward it,

This fall, Hansen shadowed both CR assistant coach Mike Tesno and the University of Delaware’s football operations staff. She’s talked football with former Riders’ assistant coach Bryan Bossard.

Hansen has even reached out to and had some conversations with a pair of women in the L.A. Rams’ organization.

But the most exciting she’s done yet was attend the NFL Combine in Indianapolis as part of a sports management conference.

“I was in awe that I was even there,” said Hansen. “It was a dream come true. I’ll never forget it.”

With the spring sports season canceled, Hansen has had some time to think about what she accomplished in high school. She’s proud of the obstacles she’s overcome.

More than playing the sport itself, Hansen said the people she got to surround with are what she’ll remember the most.

“It’s the family and the relationships that you build beyond this point,” she said. “They’ll be with you forever.”