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Taya Hanson: From Kelowna to the NCAA and Beyond

Written by: Tomas Morgan

Taya Hanson's journey from growing up in Kelowna to becoming a standout basketball player in the NCAA and now professionally is a testament to her dedication and passion for the game.

Taya’s basketball journey began in Kelowna, where she started playing for the Junior Heat. This local team marked the beginning of her basketball career, and it's worth noting that four players from the Kelowna Junior Heat team went on to make the Provincial team. Growing up in Kelowna, Taya developed a deep connection to the city she calls home. Beyond basketball, she was an avid skier, both on the slopes and on the lake.

Her athletic interests were not limited to basketball. In her early years, she participated in a wide range of sports, including gymnastics, soccer, diving, baseball, volleyball, field hockey, cross country, and track. It was in grade 7 that she decided to focus primarily on basketball, although she continued to cross-train with cross country and track to stay in shape for basketball.

Taya's dedication to basketball came with sacrifices. She had to give up some of her social life, morning routines, and participation in other sports to pursue her passion for the game. While these sacrifices were significant, her love for basketball made them worthwhile.

Talent and hard work led her to commit to Arizona State University (ASU), where she played NCAA Division 1 basketball. Her collegiate experience at ASU was a pivotal moment in her career. She emphasizes the crucial role of her coaches in her development, from her childhood years to the national level. Taya had the opportunity to compete against top talent in the NCAA, and international experiences, such as FIBA Americas, played a significant role in her growth as an athlete and an individual.

Four years at ASU were filled with ups and downs that helped her become a stronger person and a better basketball player. She learned the value of self-belief and resilience, acknowledging that basketball is a game of highs and lows, but it's essential to find a way through it.

Taya's journey continued as she transitioned to the University of Oregon, taking on a leadership role. She is still committed to becoming a better player and person each day. Taya embraces her role as a teammate, supporting and encouraging those around her, and fostering a sense of belonging and teamwork on and off the court.

Taya's experience representing Canada in international competitions, including the World Cup, has been an extraordinary part of her career. She highlights the honour and pride that comes with wearing the maple leaf and being a role model for young aspiring athletes.

Throughout her journey, Taya has looked up to athletes like Kelsey Plum and Kia Nurse, along with her coach, Sabrina Ionescu. These individuals have inspired her with their dedication, work ethic, and leadership.

Resilience and a positive attitude have been instrumental in her success. She encourages young athletes to choose how they respond to their circumstances, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and empowerment.

Taya Hanson's journey is a testament to her unwavering dedication and passion for basketball. From her early years in Kelowna to her collegiate experiences at ASU and Oregon, she continues to shine as a leader and inspiration for the next generation of athletes. Taya's commitment to the game and her ability to overcome challenges makes her a true role model for aspiring athletes, both on and off the court. Follow along with Taya’s journey by following her on Instagram @tayaahanson.

To hear more of Taya's story, listen to episode #155 on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube.

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