Joe Gorby, Sports Information Director
On a crisp fall afternoon at Joliet Memorial Stadium, a bearded individual wearing a University of St. Francis football jacket jogs onto the ATI Field turf in preparation for practice. Minutes later he instructs the small group of players to get into file near the 30-yard line and then proceeds to shout out words of encouragement as they proceed with the first drill of practice.
Encouraging and helping others is what USF alumnus Scott Hansen takes a lot of pride in doing. To say Hansen is the epitome of the USF Franciscan values of service and leadership would be an understatement.
This fall has certainly been like no other not only for USF, but the other 100-plus college football programs across the country. The numerous issues and obstacles created by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic such as moving the normal fall season to the spring of 2021 has without a doubt created some unique challenges. However, Hansen and his fellow USF coaching colleagues have responded to this undesirable situation by instilling encouragement and optimism.
Encouragement and optimism have been rekindled in the USF football program because of high character individuals like Hansen, who’s among six new coaches to join head coach Joe Curry’s staff. The 2003 USF graduate and former Saints’ football student-athlete is blessed to receive the opportunity to join his alma mater.
Hansen, who will coach the Saints’ wide receivers position this season, has spent the last six seasons (2013-19) coaching in the prep ranks at Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Ill. With aspirations of coaching at the collegiate level, Hansen’s experience and knowledge of the game as co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at HSHS is an invaluable resource for Curry and the Saints’ football program.
“If you love football and you’re a coach, I think to some degree the opportunity to coach some where you played is a big deal,” Hansen said. “Coach Curry is also a friend of mine and we were teammates. Having played at USF, I have a lot of pride in this institution and it’s important for me to be able to give back to a place which shaped my life in a positively profound way as a young adult.”
With a commitment to success on the field and in the classroom, Curry knows the importance of getting a coach like Hansen with ties to USF football and is happy to have him on the staff.
“I think it’s always good to have alumni back into the program and says you’re doing something right with the program where your alumni want to come back and be part of hopefully the success we produce here,” said ninth-year USF head coach Joe Curry, who was Hansen’s teammate in the 1999 season. “Anytime we can get (USF) alumni and he hasn’t been the only one, want to come back to the program means a lot to me and Scott is also someone I played with (at USF).”
Coming back to USF has been Hansen’s desire for several years, but unfortunately for various reasons he was unable to do so. It’s said timing is everything and circumstances fell into place this summer which afforded Hansen the opportunity to answer the calling of serving the Brown and Gold.
“Scott has asked for a couple of years to come back,” said Curry. “It’s been a work in progress for a couple of years and just happened to work out this year. We’ve been trying for the past two-three years to have him back at USF and this year, we had some availability (a position) and he had some availability too after working with a high school program for the last seven-plus years.”
For Hansen, the coaching opportunity at USF means more than what one would think.
“I believe God has a way of putting you into places for a reason not necessarily because you’re there to help someone,” explained Hansen. “Perhaps instead because someone is there to help you learn something. God has put in me in certain situations to experience some special things whether it’s been a victory or some sort of adversity.”
Hansen’s faith has also been a significant influence on his life of serving others and didn’t come until later in his life. Subsequently, Psalms 27:1 was one of the first verses which really had an impact on him based upon doubt and fear due to the lack of having a solid foundation biblically while growing up as a only child. With God, Hansen hasn’t had to face his fears alone as he did in his days as an adolescent.
Two decades ago, Hansen dealt with adversity as USF was the only college to offer the 1998 Downers Grove (Ill.) North High School graduate a legitimate opportunity to play at the next level.
Hansen, who played for the Saints from 1999-02, started out his USF career adjusting to the college game and following the coaches’ instructions to become a player who would receive playing time on game days. His experience at USF was one of hard work and being able to adapt to ever-changing situations. As a freshman quarterback at USF in 1998, Hansen was redshirted and then moved to wide receiver along with playing some special teams before eventually returning to his original quarterback position for his final three seasons (2000-02). Hansen would go on to make the most of his second quarterback stint by utilizing his superb knowledge of the offense which would result in a USF career which currently places him seventh among the Saints’ all-time passing leaders in career yards (2,425 yds.) and 10th in pass completions (145).
With fond memories and affection for USF, Hansen is right now exactly where he wants to be.
“In all honesty if it wasn’t for this opportunity (at USF), I would still be coaching high school football at Hinsdale South,” said Hansen. “I loved it there, had a great time, and did a lot of good things with a special group of coaches and athletes. So, it had to be a very special opportunity to pull me away from a situation like that.”
Being able to work with Joe Curry also played a major part in his decision to join the Saints’ program. In fact, Curry was one of the first people Hansen met during his arrival to USF and two would also be next-door neighbors at Marian Hall during his freshman year. Curry also is the subject of an ironic light-hearted memorable moment for Hansen during his USF student-athlete days.
“I reported for fall camp as a freshman in August (1998),” recalls Hansen. “We go to the team meeting and I’m kind of not really talking to anybody because I’m a little intimidated being a freshman and I don’t really know anybody. Well the next morning I wake up and the first person I see in the bathroom brushing his teeth is a bleach blonde-haired Joe Curry. He just kind of looks at me in the mirror and doesn’t make a noise while brushing his teeth so that’s definitely one of my memorable moments.”
On a more serious note, Hansen will be assisting Curry in applying their experiences at USF to get things going in the right direction and is solely focused on making the Saints a better football team.
“I’m extremely blessed and privileged to be able come back to USF to coach,” said Hansen. “As far as coaching, it’s special and rewarding to give my time, talent, and treasure to a place which has done so much for me.”
What USF and Hansen have done for one another is immeasurable.
“If I had to do it all over again at USF, I would do it the same way,” said Hansen. “I have learned a lot of valuable lessons.”
The call to serve is a valuable lesson which Hansen has taught us well.