Emma Hansen kept her eye on the ball — despite knowing few homeschool students who ever played college sports.
But Hansen, daughter of Jon and Crystal Hansen of Stanton, had her mind made up long ago that she would beat the odds. She signed a national letter of intent recently with Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.
“You don’t see a lot of homeschool athletes make it to the college level,” Hansen said. “I think it’s huge because for me growing up, it’s not something I heard about. Even if you’re homeschooled, you can still make it to the collegiate level and play.”
Hansen, a 5-foot-5 guard, played on several homeschool teams in the Norfolk area. She started with the Norfolk Dreamers, who practiced at the YMCA, and then played for the Norfolk Crusaders as a junior.
Heading into her senior season, the Crusaders didn’t have enough players to field a high school team. That’s when she decided to play for Stanton. Although she lives just outside of town, Hansen admitted she didn’t know anyone on the team and was walking into an entirely new situation.
“It was different coming into a different system with teammates I didn’t know, but it ended up working really well. I made friends quickly and even went to school part time there,” she said.
Hansen spent the afternoons at Stanton High School, where she took a math class, homeroom and college and career readiness course. After basketball ended, she was planning to be part of Stanton’s track team.
“Joining the Stanton team had its ups and downs, but I really enjoyed getting to know all of the girls on my team and getting to be part of the team,” she said. “I really enjoyed that and after the season ended, we remained friends. It was nice to build those relationships.”
While at Stanton, Hansen averaged 7.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
Coming from a homeschool, Hansen said recruiting was much different for her. Nebraska laws prohibit a homeschool team from playing public or private schools, so Hansen said she played teams in other cities and surrounding states.
By not playing other schools, Hansen said her family had to contact coaches and provide highlight footage. But it worked out and landed her multiple offers.
She visited several colleges and narrowed her choices down after offers from Northwestern College and Peru State College.
“It was hard to choose between the schools because they’re both good schools and both would allow me to play basketball,” she said.
Hansen eventually chose Northwestern, which has both a junior varsity and varsity team, meaning she’ll likely see court time almost immediately.
While at Northwestern, Hansen plans to major in physical education, which she admits may sound odd considering she was homeschooled.
“I enjoy being with kids and teaching them,” she said. “I’ve worked at a college camp the last two summers, and I really enjoyed that. I want to coach, so as a PE teacher, I think that would give me the flexibility to coach.”
Hansen said it’s important for her to receive a degree, play basketball and be a good role model for other other homeschooled students.
“I want to get the best experience possible out of this,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I want to show that homeschooled athletes can play in college.”