Achievement of a lifetime

Minot native earns full-ride to St. Cloud State to play DI hockey

Submitted photo Olivia Hanson takes a shot during a game with the Notre Dame Hounds. Hanson has attended Athol-Murray College of Notre Dame since her freshman year of high school and will go on to attend St. Cloud State in the fall.

Olivia Hanson was born on the ice. Well, not literally, but she has been skating as long as she can remember.

Her talents, dedication and sacrifice has landed the Minot native a full-ride scholarship to St. Cloud State University to play Division I women’s ice hockey.

“It felt like a dream come true,” Hanson said about her latest achievement. “Everything I have done leading up to this has paid off and I’m striving to keep getting better.”

Hanson grew up in Minot and was immersed in the hockey culture. Her father, Danny Hanson, played two years of junior hockey in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. He went on to play Division I college hockey for Lake Superior State University (Mich.) in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

“My dad played hockey all throughout his life … and was the program director at Maysa in Minot,” Olivia Hanson said. “I was always at the rink and around hockey. Since I was able to walk, I’ve been skating.”

Hanson noted her father as being one of her biggest influences with his knowledgeable hockey background and the tips and tricks he’s passed onto her. Her mother, Tasha Hanson, has also been extremely supportive.

“She has helped me with the mental side of the game,” Olivia Hanson said. “Her love and support motivates me to do better every day.”

Like her father, Olivia Hanson pursued her passion for hockey.

She decided right before her freshman year of high school that she would pack up and move to Wilcox, Saskatchewan, Canada, to attend Athol Murray College of Notre Dame and be a member of the Nortre Dame Hounds, a AAA junior hockey team in the Saskatchewan Female Midget Hockey League (SFMHL).

“It was overwhelming and scary,” Hanson said about leaving home at 14 years old. She said it was easy to adjust because everyone on campus was in the same situation — whether pursuing academics or athletics — and striving to accomplish their goals.

Hanson, a defender, has scored a goal and added five assists in eight games this season for the Notre Dame Hounds. Her team has won the Mandi Schwartz tournament, the biggest female hockey tournament in Western Canada according to Athol Murray’s website, and has participated in three national USA development camps.

Her next stop is St. Cloud State.

SCSU head coach Eric Rud is excited for Hanson to join the team.

“She is a dynamic, offensive defender and an elite skater. She brings a lot to the blue line,” Rud said. “We wanted a team that lets our defenseman play and be aggressive and use their talent.”

About competing at the college level, Hanson said: “I’m looking forward to just competing at that high level I’ve worked hard for. It’s a high level of training, coaching and a different lifestyle because everything is so focused and given to you. They give you everything you need to succeed.”

Currently, Hanson is finishing up her senior year at Athol Murray and playing her final season with the ND Hounds. She plans to major in pre-chiropractic at SCSU.

Throughout her journey so far, Hanson remains humble and hasn’t forgotten where she came from.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported me,” she said. “To my family for the opportunity to go to Notre Dame and all of Minot for being my first home. I’m happy to call it my home.”