Courtesy of Irma Rios of Madera High School
Madera’s Ashley Hansen (hat) is surrounded by her teammates, from left, Alyssa Burton, Maliyah Callahan, Addyson Smith, Brianna Rubalcaba, Maria Hernandez (front) and Ximena Escobar after signing her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Kansas Wesleyan University.
After her three-year varsity career is done at Madera High School, point guard Ashley Hansen will remain a Coyote, however, she will be wearing the purple at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Hansen signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the NAIA school in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference in Salina, Kansas, in front of family, teammates and friends in the Madera High School cafeteria on Nov. 17.
“It’s a smaller school and that’s what I wanted,” Hansen said. “I didn’t want to go to a big school where I was just a dot in the ocean. I wanted to be somewhere where I can have a relationship with my professors and meet a lot of new people I could be friends with. I love the basketball team. It felt like a college experience. The other schools I went to, their gyms were really old. I went there, walked in and said this is college basketball and this is where I need to be. The coaches are super nice. They have family and understand that I have to get back home when I need to go home. They are really lenient. They are also the only school where I’ll pursue a nursing degree.”
Hansen was second on the team in scoring last year, averaging almost 10 points per game while also pulling down four rebounds with two steals per game leading the Coyotes to the Div. II Valley Championship game in Fresno’s Selland Arena.
“She’s, hands down, our team leader,” Madera head coach Jason Smith said. “She’s our primary ball handler and our top scoring threat. She provides toughness on the defensive side of the ball. She’s played basketball long enough to have a high basketball IQ. She has a super high expectation of being successful.”
“They saw me at a recruiting camp,” Hansen said. “They found me on an app that I have that helped me show myself to the coaches. They emailed me through the app and asked me to visit. My dad planned it out and it happened to be the one.”
Hansen also made recruiting trips to Pacific Union, San Diego Christian and Walla Walla University. Kansas Wesleyan was her third trip. She was leaning towards Walla Walla because it was closer to home, but the Kansas Wesleyan coach “upped the ante” and Hansen decided to pick the Coyotes.
“I told the (Kansas Wesleyan) coach that I had to wait until this other coach’s offer to decide whether to go to your school or not,” Hansen said. “The coach said he was going to give me extra money and a job on campus. I said I can’t pass that up. I really liked the school. They really want me to go there. They made me feel special.”
Hansen said the plan is to play point guard, probably as a back up to their sophomore point guard next year and eventually take over the position.
“They said that I would probably play right away,” she said. “I might not start because they have another guard that’s a year ahead of me. I’m willing to put in the work to get to the position to where I’m starting or getting good minutes.”
Hansen said that moving to Kansas will be difficult for not only her, but her entire family, especially her father.
“My dad puts up a front because he tells the coaches that we want her to go out and experience college on her own,” she said. “I know they were going to miss me a lot and I’m going to miss them. I’m really close to all of my family. Even the family that doesn’t live in my house. It’s probably going to be rough the first couple of months. I feel like it’s needed for me to grow as a person.”
The Kansas Wesleyan coach even sent Hansen her No. 12 jersey to use for her signing day.
“I was talking to the coach and he asked me what he needed to do to get you here,” Hansen said. “I asked him if he had a No. 12 jersey. He said we might have one. He sent me a text message a few weeks before my signing and asked how does this look. He sent it back and let me have it for a few weeks. I took my senior pictures in it.”
Hansen is excited about her opportunity in Kansas, but not too sure about the colors she will wear.
“They made me feel wanted,” she said. “They are the Coyotes, but it’s ironic that their colors are purple (yellow and gold). It’s been 11 years for this.”