(Editor's note: MTN Sports is featuring a Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year finalist nightly leading into this year's awards banquet Wednesday, May 18, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Ten graduating seniors (five boys, five girls) in Billings are nominated annually by coaches and activities directors before Roundtable members, a group of longtime sports enthusiasts in Billings, vote on one male and one female winner. In rare instances, the award has been shared.)
BILLINGS - Ask Billings Central's Mya Hansen about her favorite sport, and the top three answers would all be basketball.
Ironically, three is also the number of universities she committed to in a very unusual recruiting process. She first chose the University of Montana and then Butler. But after coaching changes at both, Hansen is happily locked in to Boise State.
"I'm so excited I finally have a final destination where I'm going for college," she told MTN Sports. "It's a very competitive atmosphere there and everyone wants to win and compete."
Hansen clearly knows about competing and how to win.
She's part of two state volleyball championships at Central, one state basketball title and was named Montana's Female Gatorade Player of the Year her senior season. Plus, she's been an academic all-state selection every high school year.
But what many may not remember; she was a soccer goalie her freshman and sophomore years.
"I only played goalie because I'm awful with my feet," Hansen said laughing. "So, I thought, hey, I can use my basketball skills with my hands. I can catch a ball so let's try this out."
She was clearly effective, reaching the State A championship both years. But Hansen's vivid memory on the pitch is a collision in the final moments of a tied regular season match against Belgrade as a freshman at Laurel.
"I slid, caught the ball, but she (Belgrade's forward) didn't realize it was in my hands," Hansen recalled. "So, (she took) a full swing kick, hit (me) right in the face. For the next two or three weeks, I was called "chipmunk" around school because I had a big, giant, puffy face."
But, she made the play. And Hansen will be the first to tell you, no pain, no gain.
No matter the sport.
Female finalists: Brooke Berry (Skyview), Kaitlin Grossman (West), Mya Hansen (Central), Kennedy Venner (Senior), Jaeden Wolff (West).
Male finalists: Isaiah Claunch (West), Caden Dowler (West), Taco Dowler (West), Drake Rhodes (West), Payton Sanders (Skyview).