For the first 14 years of her life Kate Hansen lived in Airdrie, but it was a move to Red Deer three years ago that played a major role in her future.
Kate’s family moved because of work, which gave her the opportunity to attend St. Joseph’s Baseball/Softball Academy, which eventually led to her committing to attend Dakota College in Bottineau, North Dakota.
“I got into softball when I was eight and my goal since then was to go to college in the States on a scholarship,” she explained.
“Getting the opportunity to attend the academy benefited me for sure as I got an opportunity to practice every day. Also being in the softball program, there’s less girls so you get a lot more one-on-one attention.”
She feels all areas of her game have gotten better by the daily workouts, but the biggest has been her hitting.
“I feel I’m a good hitter, but it has improved as much as anything,” she said.
Kate also had a big connection with the academy as her cousin — Jason Chatwood — is the teacher/head coach.
“A big family,” she said with a laugh. “I have a lot of cousins in baseball and softball with Jason and Heather (Chatwood), Jaret (Chatwood) and Dwayne and Kelsey Lalor just to name a few.”
Kelsey Lalor, who is one of the premier baseball players in the world, plays softball at Boise State.
“She comes back when she can and helps us at the academy and with the Rage,” said Hansen.
Kate’s mom, Carmen Daines, who she calls her biggest fan, is connected to that side of the family.
Hansen did most of the work in getting the scholarship.
“I researched a number of schools and liked what I saw so I sent the coach (Mike Smith, formerly of the University of Regina) a number of emails and videos. We started talking and they offered me the scholarship.”
“I had a couple of other schools interested but it didn’t work out.”
The fact Dakota College has a good nursing program also influenced the 17-year-old’s decision.
“That’s what I wanted to take in school and they have a good program.”
Smtih is excited about Hansen’s commitment and has already said she’d start at either catcher or the outfield.
Kate hopes it’s behind the plate.
“When I was little I played a number of positions, but eventually moved to catcher and the outfield. I prefer catching … it’s a position where you’re always involved,” said the five-foot-four Hansen, who throws and bats right.
Hansen did play volleyball for St. Joe’s but had the season cut short because of the pandemic. Her younger sister Kelly is also involved in the academy, but is more of a volleyball player according to Kate, who spends the summer playing club softball with the Red Deer Rage.
“This year we have the U19A team which we’re all looking forward to,” she said. “In fact we were practising before we got shut down. We’re hoping we can get back and have a season.”
A number of players with the academy, like Hannah Murray and Paige Simpson, who have also committed to U.S. colleges, are with the Rage.
“We have a great group of girls, who work well together,” Kate said.
Like everyone, Kate finds herself at home because of the pandemic, but still works out.
“I can still work on things at home. I set up a tee and practice hitting, but it’s not the same for sure,” she said. “But it’s the same for everyone.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org