Hannah Hedstrom dribbling in Lehigh jersey

Profile: Hannah Hedstrom ’19, Lehigh women's basketball

The guard, a four-year starter, is currently a graduate student.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Steve Boyle

Hannah Hedstrom racked up the accolades in the 2018-19 season, being named to the Patriot League’s All-Defensive Team and its Academic Honor Roll, the Google Cloud Academic All-District 2 Team, and voted, for the second straight season, to the Academic All-Patriot League team. The guard’s 53 steals ranked sixth in the Patriot League, while her 3.2 assists per game was eighth-best. Both led Lehigh’s squad. She also became the ninth player in program history—and the first in nearly 20 years—to join the 300-assist club in a Patriot League quarterfinal win over Colgate. Hedstrom, a three-year starter, returns for her fourth year as a graduate student.

MAJOR: Biology

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM JOB?
That's a tough one. I spent a lot of my undergraduate career trying to figure that out, but I'm hoping to go into health care consulting or clinical management consulting, working either for a health network or some sort of [company] in the health care industry. I would love to work with a team of people who are working to solve problems within health care.

IN MY EXPERIENCE, MALE ATHLETES HAVE QUICKLY ANSWERED FIRST WITH NBA, NFL OR MLB. DO YOU THINK ABOUT PLAYING PROFESSIONALLY IN THE WNBA?
No, not for me. A lot of girls play overseas, too. There are a lot of opportunities. They're not for much money but more for the experience. But I think I will be ready to start a career and really excited to get going with that after this. So nothing against it, just not what I'm looking for.

WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN BASKETBALL?
It's been a family thing. Growing up, my mom and dad were both head coaches at the high school. And my mom played basketball at the University of Minnesota. So we all grew up playing, and my dad coached all the way up. Both of my siblings have played. My brother plays for the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, and my sister played for the University of Minnesota.

Hannah Hedstrom with basketball with macadam background

THERE'S A BIG CONNECTION BETWEEN MINNESOTA AND LEHIGH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL. I SAW A PHOTO ON PRESIDENT JOHN SIMON’S INSTAGRAM WITH TEAM MEMBERS IN MINNESOTA.
So, funny thing about that. I was the first from Minnesota on the [Lehigh] team. Now there are six of us, and one coming next year. And all of us played for the same club. It was like a pipeline. ... Minnesota has a lot of great schools, but there's only one Division I school. I think a lot of high academic girls from Minnesota started to look to the Patriot League schools, once they heard of them and saw what a good experience it is. It really caught on. It's been awesome to be able to be a part of that.

WHAT OTHER SPORTS HAVE YOU PLAYED?
I played soccer growing up. I stopped once I got to high school, just got to be too much to do. But that was one of my first passions. I still love following the U.S. Women's national team and have always been a fan of the team.

WHAT'S MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BASKETBALL?
Making sure the teams can stay focused throughout the entire [college season], because it does get really long. But that's also rewarding because we get very, very close to each other after spending so much time.

YOU WEAR NO. 22. IS THERE A REASON?
My mom was that [number] in college, so was my sister. And then the coaches at Lehigh gave it to me knowing that's what number my sister was. Now my brother's that too, so I guess it's a family number now, kind of by accident.

WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

My senior year of high school we won the state championship, and I was with a group of girls that I grew up playing with. We beat our rival in the state championship, so that was pretty big. That would probably be the biggest.

Hannah Hedstrom headshot

YOU GRADUATED IN THREE YEARS WITH A 3.97 GPA AND NOW, FOR YOUR FOURTH YEAR, YOU’RE ENROLLED IN GRAD SCHOOL?
Yes. I'm starting my master's this fall in health care systems engineering, which has been so far, so good. I'm super excited for those courses, and then I will have two to three classes left after this [academic year].

HOW TOUGH WAS IT TO GET YOUR UNDERGRADUATE DONE IN THREE YEARS?

Not as hard as it seems at first. I came from a really good high school and came in with about 30-some AP credits. And then with basketball, we do some summer classes. I was able to be really strategic in what classes I took. My sister did the same thing in college, played basketball and then getting the extra classes. So I kind of had that idea from the beginning, that it would be possible if I wanted to.

YOU WERE NAMED TO THE 2019 GOOGLE CLOUD ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT 2 TEAM—ONE OF JUST TWO PLAYERS FROM THE PATRIOT LEAGUE TO EARN THAT HONOR. HOW COOL IS THAT?

Really cool. I knew it was a thing, but it just comes out randomly and one day [I was named]. But it does feel good to be recognized for what you do in the classroom, as well as on the court, because we do spend so much time focusing on those two things.

YOU’RE ALSO PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENT ATHLETE COUNCIL?

Yes, I'm co-captain with two other athletes: Owen Quinn on golf and Ryan Paradise on track and field and cross country. Our role there is as head of the council that works to better the lives of student athletes here on campus. We do that through a variety of ways, connecting with other groups on campus, working with athletics’ leadership when problems arise and stuff like that. It’s been a really good way for me to connect with other athletes in different sports and also be able to represent my team.

Hannah Hedstrom passing a basketball

YOU'RE A COFFEE FAN. WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO BREW?
At Saxby's? I get the salted caramel cold brew. Half sweetened. It's a little too sweet on its own.

WHAT'S ONE FUN FACT THAT MOST PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I love puzzles. I'll bring crossword puzzles on the bus [to games] sometimes, or we do riddles.

WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MENTOR?

In college, Mae Williams for sure. She graduated two years ago, in ’18. She was actually my host on my recruiting visit to Lehigh. She really opened my eyes to what this place could be and I just made a connection with her. She was a really good teammate and a person I could relate to on and off the court. She was somebody I was always able to talk to about everything, even when I was just feeling overwhelmed, and she also helped me plan my academic schedule.

DO YOU HAVE A NICKNAME?

Han was more of a high school thing. Hannie, they call me now. My coach sometimes calls me “H,” but [my teammates] don't like that. And she kind of knows it, too, so she's tried to stop.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LEHIGH WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAM?

In general, the people. I appreciate how much the coaches care about us on and off the court and are willing to develop us not only as basketball players, but as leaders and strong young women. And my teammates, having a close bond with them makes getting through everything so much easier and so much more fun.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST THING ABOUT LEHIGH UNIVERSITY?

The ability to connect with so many people on campus and build the relationships that I couldn't build somewhere else. President Simon has built a close relationship with our team, and I've been able to connect with so many more people on campus in a variety of offices and clubs than I would have, I think, somewhere else. I'm really fortunate for the ability to connect with people here.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Steve Boyle

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