For 16 years, Ryan Hansen was at the helm of the Auburn High School Trojans basketball team. Six years ago, Kaden Hansen began his career, and ever since, Hansen family members have sprinkled into the Auburn program.
But this year was a bit different. Jessica Hansen took over the girls program at Auburn, and that Hansen family dynamic just got a whole lot more basketball-y.
Jessica taking the job wasn’t expected at first, as Auburn had found a coach who ended up not taking the job due to other implications.
“She was actually a little hesitant to do it at first, she didn’t actually apply,” Ryan said of his wife.
“I didn’t really have it in my plans. I’ve coached this group for a long time. I am really close to many of the girls and their families. I was really hoping to send them off to an awesome high school coach and, you know, maybe volunteer,” Jessica said.
After learning the possibility was there, it took some discussion with family as well as former girls coach and current Auburn Athletic Director Jon Price. The choice just made too much sense.
“It’s a great group. I know the kids. I was going to be coming to the games anyway because of Avery,” Jessica said, referencing their daughter. “It’s so worth it.”
“Her and I started talking about it and I encouraged her to do it because I knew she’d be great at it,” Ryan added. “She ultimately decided to do it and hasn’t looked back, and I think she’s having a lot of fun.”
Ryan and Jessica’s relationship began with basketball, meeting at Hoopfest in Spokane 22 years ago. And today, that passion for family and the game is as strong as ever. A Spokesman Review article from 2009 talks about the meeting of Ryan and Jessica and their passion for hoops.
Basketball knowledge is far from lacking in the Hansen family. Ryan split his collegiate time at Walla Walla CC and Eastern Washington University and professionally in South Korea. Meanwhile, Jessica played at Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho. The amount of basketball knowledge is something the family bonds over.
“Ryan has been so helpful. We’re running a lot of the same stuff (on the court). We sit at home and talk about everything. We talk personnel. He’s a huge resource,” Jessica said.
The Hansens had just three kids back in the photo in the 2009 story: Kaden (sophomore at St. Martin’s University), Carter (junior at Auburn High School), and Avery (freshman at Auburn). They have since added Kobe, who is 12 years old and sometimes has to wait on a parent lagging behind.
“Kobe sometimes gets left at practice or we’re not sure what he eats for dinner. He’s probably basically driving right now. But he’s 12,” Jessica Hansen said with a laugh.
“They didn’t really have a choice (to play basketball),” said Ryan. “They were basically handed a basketball when they started walking around the house.”
On top of their game
This season, Jessica and Ryan have the Trojan programs atop the 3A NPSL standings. The boys are 8-0, while the girls have just one loss with a 7-1 record. That’s a lot of winning for one program, let alone one family.
“It was really cool for me to sit down right next to Jessica and watch game film as a husband and a dad. Listening to her speak and her coaching mind while she was still kind of in it and asking questions was fun and I enjoyed that,” Ryan said.
Jessica has been out of the high school game for a while, but hasn’t been out of the coaching game. She has coached Avery and some current Auburn freshmen over the past six years.
“Seeing her on the sidelines brings me a lot of joy. Her being able to do that with her daughter as well is really cool. I know that feeling going through it with (our) sons,” Ryan said.
Going into coach Auburn’s girls after a 2-14 season was no easy task, and it took the right group at the right time to get Jessica back in the driver’s seat.
“If I didn’t have that reciprocated energy from the girls, I wouldn’t have committed. But I knew I would because I knew the group coming in and the group that was already here. So that made me excited to work with them,” Jessica said.
If there is one person who wasn’t surprised at the success Jessica and the girls’ team are having, it’s Ryan Hansen.
“I’m not surprised just because the group of girls she had and Jessica’s demeanor. She’s very competitive and good with the girls, gets them to play hard and buy in,” he said.
Avery for obvious reasons has bought in. As a freshman on a team loaded with seniors, she’s earned and gotten a good amount of minutes early on in the season.
“One thing that Avery has going for her is she grew up in a house with three brothers. So naturally she’s pretty tough and gritty … She’s kind of learning how to manage that mom versus coach role. Both are very important, but there is a time and place for both,” Ryan said.
“Seeing her brothers go through that has helped, but certainly there will be some trying times as they go through that process. But in the end, I think it’s going to turn out really well for them,” Ryan said.
There can’t be that many families in the state that have a connection to a single program like the Hansens have to Auburn. That bond creates a lot of passion for the sport of basketball.
“She’s been a coach for years. She might not have been on the bench for years. But she and I have had many conversations about adjustments and stuff. She’s got a coaching mind,” Ryan said.
With Avery and Carter both being coached by their parents, Ryan and Jessica get some opportunities to watch their kids in a different light.
“We’re so lucky to be able to do that (coach and parent). We’re so lucky to be in the middle, growing up with these kids who are close friends with our kids and see them be successful,” Jessica said.
Kaden paved the way for the Hansen kids to be passionate about basketball, playing at the collegiate level.
“He had a lot of success as a player here, won the first state championship. So the standard has been set very high. They certainly look up to him, the way he prepared to play the game and all that extra time and unseen hours that he put in. They’re kind of following suit knowing the game rewards work,” Ryan said.
“We say he paved the way for the rest of us. He even taught us some things. Hopefully he’s able to help the other kids when there are nights when you go home and not happy with their play, but they’re your kid,” Jessica said.
Basketball — and sports all the time — is something that packs a schedule. Having games and practices almost every day creates a chaotic routine, but the Hansens find time for family activities. Those times are what Ryan cherishes.
“It can’t all be about basketball. There has to be some balance. Trying to find that balance has been the biggest challenge,” he said. “The biggest challenge is time. It’s a lot to be a head coach and run a program and to have both parents doing that… Finding time to step away from basketball, like going to church, little vacations even go to dinner sometimes is a challenge.”
With the busy-ness of all the basketball in the Hansens’ life, they’re finding their way to navigate it and have success. They’ll find it the best way the Hansens know how — together.