By: Isabella Urbani, Sports Editor
Theresa Hanson became the first woman Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation at SFU on October 26, 2015. But she was no stranger to SFU or making history. In an interview with The Peak, she revealed her long standing history with SFU and her battle to bring Canadian athletics to the NCAA.
Hanson was hired as the assistant coach of the women’s basketball team in 1988 by “legendary” coach Allision McNeil, who she met while playing summer basketball at SFU. During her two years at SFU, Hanson also met her future husband in former assistant of SFU’s men’s basketball team, Kevin Hanson — the current UBC head coach.
SFU’s 1990 women’s basketball team was the first to qualify for a national championship tournament. “It was such a great experience — with an extraordinary recruiting class that would go on to do amazing things on the court and off,” said Hanson.
Born and raised in Trail, BC, Hanson credited her father and senior boys basketball coach for her involvement in sports.
“We were encouraged to get involved in sport and extracurricular activities. Swimming, gymnastics, track and field, softball, baseball, and basketball — I was offered incredible opportunities.”
Hanson eventually narrowed down her athletic prowess to basketball and track and field. She eventually landed on LC State College in Idaho, where she was offered a varsity scholarship. In 1994, she became the Director of Athletics at Langara College.
In 2005, Hanson was hired as the Associate Director at UBC. Over the years, her title grew to Director of Athletics, Operations and Student-Athlete Services.
“I was responsible for the day to day operation and management of the varsity sport program, 29 varsity sports, athlete services, eligibility and compliances, marketing and communications, game management and training services.”
However, one of her tallest tasks during her time at UBC was lobbying the NCAA to open its doors to Canadian institutions. Hanson was present in 2008 when the decision was made to welcome the membership. UBC declined to participate.
Hanson expressed her close ties with SFU which predated UBC, and her “extensive work to lay the groundwork for SFU to seek membership” to the NCAA motivated her to apply for Senior Director of Athletics and Recreation in 2015.
As the current director, some of Hanson’s responsibilities involve the “strategic direction of management.” She said, “The best part of my job is the interaction with people, from our excellent staff and amazing student athletes.
“It takes a community and a will to be moving in the same direction — we have a great community here at SFU and continue to improve what we do every day.”
Hanson’s accomplishments don’t stop there. In 2014, she was inducted into the Greater Trail Home of Champions Registry in 2014. Her father, who Hanson described as “a true prillar of the community,” handed the award to her.
“It truly was one of the proudest and most rewarding times in my life,” she said.
Hanson’s latest milestone includes being named to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Division II Management Council. The team is responsible for “recommending administrative policy and regulations that govern the division.” Hanson believes having SFU present on the council is a great benefit as the only Canadian school a part of the NCAA program. She will begin serving her four year term in January 2023.