Standing in shadows

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    By Leigh Dethman

    New recruits face plenty of challenges. Dorm rooms, tough classes and fitting into a new team are hard enough for a rookie. But three women”s basketball recruits meet the toughest challenge of them all – standing in their brothers” shadows.

    Mountain View High School seniors Heather and Hollie Hansen follow their big brother, Travis, one of the best men”s basketball players in Cougar history, to BYU next fall.

    “I”m nervous just because it is something new,” Heather said. “He [Travis] has been really successful. The coaches will expect us to work as hard as he does.”

    But Heather said she is putting pressure on herself to perform at the Division I level.

    “I”m just putting a lot of pressure on myself to play really well,” Heather said. “I”m confident if I work as hard as he [Travis] does, I”ll be fine.”

    Hollie said the expectations that come with playing in Travis” shadow inspire her.

    “There is pressure, but it is more of a drive to work hard,” Hollie said. “I”m nervous, but I think it will be ok.”

    Both sisters are accustomed to pressure. Heather and Hollie led Mountain View to a national championship during their sophomore years. They are both two time all-staters and two-time state champions.

    The Hansen twins aren”t the only recruits following in their brothers” footsteps. Melinda Johnsen, a senior at Murray High School, chose to wear blue instead of her wearing her family”s familiar red jerseys. Melinda”s older brother, Britton Johnsen, plays basketball for the University of Utah.

    Britton stars for the Utes, averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Melinda”s other brother, Jeff, played four years at Utah, averaging 10.6 points during his senior season in 2001-2002. Jeff played on Utah”s NCAA Sweet 16 team as a freshman.

    “My parents went to BYU, although it is our rival right now with my brother playing there,” Melinda said. “But they [my parents] love basketball, and they are happy I”m playing somewhere, especially for Coach Judkins.”

    Melinda is constantly reminded of her brothers” basketball successes. Hanging from the Murray High School rafters are the jerseys of both Jeff and Britton.

    “Everyone sees them,” Melinda said. “But I like the pressure. I like having the expectations to be as good as them [my brothers] and to play as good as them. I get crap every once in a while, but it”s worth it.”

    Heather and Hollie are happy Melinda decided to go against family tradition and play for BYU.

    “She chose the best decision for her,” Heather said. “I think it is really cool of her to go with what is best for her and not fold under pressure or anything.”

    When asked why they chose to play for BYU, all three recruits said the sole reason was because of head coach Jeff Judkins.

    “We knew right when he got that job that that is where we needed to be,” Hollie said. “I knew Coach Judkins through Travis a little bit. Travis just loves him. He”s awesome.”

    While serving as the men”s assistant coach at Utah, Judkins recruited Britton to play for the Utes.

    “I”m excited to play for Coach Judkins,” Melinda said. “He basically recruited my brother.”

    Rivals Travis and Britton will watch their kid sisters playing together in Cougar uniforms next season.

    “I love Britton, he”s a great player,” Travis said. “I don”t really like a lot of Utah players, but I like him. I”m excited for our sisters to play together.”

    Melinda said the transition from opponents to teammates will be easy for the recruits.

    “I”ve played against them [Heather and Hollie] before,” Melinda said. “They are so good, every year they are All State. Playing with them is a totally different situation.”

    Hollie agrees. Melinda shares many of the same life experiences Heather and Hollie have gone through.

    “She [Melinda] knows what it is like to have an older brother that plays and everything,” Hollie said. “She”s just a stud.”

    All three recruits benefited from growing up with talented older brothers.

    While growing up, the Hansen family would spend their Saturday mornings at the church basketball hoop. The kids ran through dribbling drills and worked on their shots.

    “We all just love to play,” Hollie said.

    The twins would wake up at five in the morning just to rebound for their brothers.

    Nowadays, Travis works with Heather and Hollie during the summer to help improve their games.

    Melinda said her brother Jeff, who finished his eligibility with the Utes last season, mentors her on the court.

    “He”s always pushing me to play more,” Melinda said. “He helps me because he”s got that time.”

    No matter how great their brothers play, these recruits will make history of their own at BYU.

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