Redshirt senior Sarah Hansen has almost done it all.
Her name is all over the Florida Gulf Coast University record books, she’s won Atlantic Sun Player of the Year twice, and she was inducted into the FGCU hall of fame.
“Realistically, after my freshman year, I didn’t even think I would be here,” Hansen said. “Well, before my true freshman year, I was struggling. I didn’t know what was going on. As we’ve grown and as we’ve played games in the conference, I’ve seen what we can do. Making the NCAA tourney twice does not shock me, but it’s definitely exciting. It’s not something you take for granted because, like you saw last year, there are upsets. Coach believed in me, once he actually started talking to me, that he thought there was something in me that could come out. It also helped that my teammates were amazing. They all played together for a few years, and they welcomed me in.”
Since then she became FGCU’s all-time leader in scoring and field goals.
But there is one thing she hasn’t accomplished yet—winning an NCAA tournament game.
Two years ago Hansen helped lead FGCU into its first NCAA tournament game. It was FGCU’s first year of eligibility and it won the A-Sun in dominating fashion. The team was four minutes away from its first NCAA tournament win in school history when it let a double-digit lead slip away and eventually fell to No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure.
“It hurt but it was definitely an exciting experience,” Hansen said.
Now in her last season at FGCU, she has another opportunity to win an NCAA tournament game. The 12-seeded Eagles will face off against 5-seed Oklahoma State on Saturday at 11 a.m. in West Lafayette, Ind.
“I wouldn’t want my career to end any other way. It’s what you want to do,” Hansen said. “Every year the goal is to make the NCAA tournament, and it’s nice to achieve that goal. It got away from us last year. But hopefully we aren’t done. Another goal we have is to win games in the NCAA tournament, and I think that we are in a position that, if we play well and come together, we have every possibility to accomplish that goal.”
Hansen is one of just three players who was on the team that made the NCAA tournament in 2012 and is the lone senior on the team.
“I told them we just need to stay focused on what we are trying to accomplish,” Hansen said. “It’s just a game like any other game, but now it’s win or go home. It’s just a game, and we need to get to the point where we just play our game that we’ve been playing for the last couple of weeks. We also need to come and give it all or leave it all on the floor.”
Off the court, Hansen is a leader in the classroom. She has been named the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third straight year with a 3.88 cumulative grade point average as a chemistry major and mathematics minor.
“I think it says it all when she got elected into the University’s Hall of Fame,” FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh said. “That epitomizes who she is as a person. She’s much more than a great basketball player. She’s a quality woman that somebody one day is going to be fortunate enough to have as a doctor. Her leadership as the only senior on the team continues to show itself day in and day out, and I couldn’t be happier for her because of what she’s earned.”
Not only does Hansen have the respect of the whole athletic department, but also the respect of her opposing coaches.
“It has been an honor to coach against her,” Stetson coach Lynn Bria said after FGCU defeated Stetson 72-70 in the A-Sun championship last Sunday. “I have a real respect for players that play so hard, and she does everything for her team. She is the backbone of the team. She’s the leader of the team and coaching against her for four years, she’s done a lot for the program.”
Hansen went 8-2 in her career at FGCU against Stetson.
As her career comes to a close, Hansen still believes that what she’s done was for a greater good.
“I definitely didn’t think I would have accomplished as much as I have,” Hansen said. “Even two years ago, when I was first team, and last year, when I was player of the year, I say this time and time again it speaks volumes for our program. What we are able to do as a program. It’s not just me. It’s not like I go out on the court and I’m the most athletic person out there. It’s my teammates working together to help me be the best player that I can be. Also our coaches and our support staff and academic coordinators and everything helping us be the best people we can be on and off the court. It speaks more for what we can accomplish as a program than what I’ve been able to do as an individual.”