Community supports South alumnus, Olympic athlete

Hannah Mason, asst. sports editor

With the Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 7 and running until Feb. 23, the Glenview community is showing support for South alumnus and speedskater Brian Hansen as he heads to Sochi, Russia to participate in the Winter Olympics for the second time.

Glen Oak Acres, Hansen’s neighborhood, is first showing their support by making five illuminating Olympic rings and hanging them in front of Hansen’s house, said Hansen’s neighbor, Joyce Heneghan. Sophomore Brian Heneghan, Joyce’s son, both constructed and installed the rings.

“Since I had made posters for the Hansen’s parents to take to Canada in 2010 for [Boys Scouts], I thought it would be a good idea to help out again,” Heneghan said.

According to Heneghan, it took him three days to make the rings and about 35 minutes to install.

“First off, we bought five hula hoops, 100-light holiday lights of the colors and a lot of duct tape,” Heneghan said. “The hula hoops weren’t solid colored, so we had to lay the lights onto the hoop, then surround it in duct tape of that color.”

In another effort to show Olympic spirit, members from the Glen Oak Acres neighborhood gathered on Jan. 24-25 in the Cole Park Field House to create a video presentation entitled, “Go Brian!” According to Joyce, the video was videotaped and edited by junior Kayla Staunton.

The video can be viewed on Youtube, the Glen Oak Acres Facebook page, and Brian’s fan page on Facebook.

“The video consists of Brian’s friends and neighbors from Glen Oak Acres cheering him on with their support,” Staunton said. “Really plain and simple, but meaningful.”

For the last step of the support campaign, Heneghan and several others lined Lake Avenue with signs on Feb. 5, according to Heneghan.

“I think that GBS has been doing well to support [Hansen], but I feel like we could do more to support [him],” Heneghan said.

Hansen has been studying at Marquette University since his graduation from South in 2009.

“I really appreciate GBS being loyal to me!” Hansen said. “I realized after I graduated how great of a community and school GBS really is.”

Hansen made his first appearance in the Vancouver Olympics of 2010. There, Hansen won a silver medal in the men’s pursuit and 18th in men’s 1500m, according to As Hansen returns to the Olympics in Sochi, he hopes for gold medals in the 1000 and 1500 meter events.

“I am not the favorite, but it is definitely possible,” Hansen said. “Also, if everything comes together in the Team Pursuit, it is possible we win gold. I plan on achieving this by treating this competition like every other World Cup and doing what I know works for me. To not treat it as any different of a World Cup competition.”

Hansen and Heneghan’s friendship started from being neighbors. Brian was also in Hansen’s Boy Scout troop.

“I really appreciate [Heneghan’s] support,” Hansen said. “It is motivating to me when I see someone who wants to be a part of my journey and experience with the Olympics.”

Hansen arrived in Sochi on Jan. 30 and said that after training for the past four years, he is proud to be back at the Olympics.

“My hopes were just to give myself the chance to compete at the games again and now here I am!” Hansen said. “We are one of the first countries and team to get in the village. So not too many people are here right now. But it’s still definitely exciting to see all the other athletes. Everybody is excited to meet each other. Last night the U.S. speed skating team played Taboo with the Bobsled team which was fun.”

To follow Hansen during the Winter Olympics, view the graphic (right) for days he will be competing. To view the video made by the Glen Oak Acres community go to: