ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Freshman year: Walk on.
Sophomore year: Play six minutes off the bench.
Junior year: All-American.
Senior year: pre-season GNAC player of the year.
If you asked UAA women’s basketball senior forward Hannah Wandersee if she ever imagined she’d achieve that recognition, she’d laugh at you.
“No. Never would I have thought,” she laughed. Especially thinking back to that first open gym with the team when she first got to Anchorage.
“We started playing 5-on-5 and I could not get the ball, I could not shoot the ball, I couldn’t rebound,” Wandersee said ruefully. “I remember thinking, 'I can’t play at this level.' Holy moly, this is like completely different.”
But she knew if she buckled down, she could compete.
The little freshman from Kodiak decided to buckle down and see what she could do in a program known for the intensity of its practices.
“I have a lot of work to do,” Wandersee remembers thinking. “I don’t know how I’m going to be game ready.”
For head coach Ryan McCarthy, it’s that work ethic during her redshirt freshman year that catapulted her to the tenacious player that she is today.
“That’s when I kind of knew, ok, eventually, this lady’s going to really help us.”
Fast forward to her senior year, and Wandersee is poised to build off a dynamite junior campaign that had her as the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
And according to her teammates, she’s the person you want on the floor in clutch moments.
“I can always expect her to run the floor. As a point guard, she’s definitely a five you want to have,” junior point guard Yasmeen Goo said.
But if you ask Hannah about all this attention, it’s something she’s still not used to.
“It was an honor and it recognizes last year but it kinda just motivated me more to make sure I have a good year and still compete,” Wandersee said with a soft smile.
It’s that quiet leadership that endears her to her teammates and coaches, a way of leading by example without having to say anything at all. The best thing about Wandersee’s game? Everyone agrees, she leaves it all on the floor.
“But the biggest mark she’ll leave is the kind of work ethic that she did and the kind of integrity of her work ethic and I hope that that rubs off on some of our ladies,” McCarthy said.
GNAC play begins this week for UAA and while the team is focused on that, what Wandersee has accomplished is still resonating with everyone on her team.
“Not everyone gets the big 30 minutes when they first get here and it just shows that hard work will bring you from redshirting to playing six minutes to being the GNAC Preseason player of the year,” Goo says.
The Seawolves face GNAC foe Central Washington on the road on Thursday, Nov. 29 and then travel to take on Northwest Nazarene on Saturday, Dec. 1.