Considering how well the Father Judge soccer season went in 2013, it’s no surprise that Joey Hansen has been able to add a few suffixes to his name.
First came Joey Hansen, Catholic League champion; then came Joey Hansen, city champion. Amidst all this excitement, he became Joey Hansen, collegiate soccer player, when he was awarded a soccer scholarship to attend La Salle University in the fall.
Hansen then graduated to Joey Hansen, All-State selection, which is impressive enough in its own right given how many talented soccer players are spread out across Pennsylvania. Then came the ultimate coup de grace that shows just how far Hansen and his team came in 2013: Joey Hansen, All-American.
Hansen was one of 62 names on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s (NSCAA) All-American list, one of three from the state of Pennsylvania and the only player from Philadelphia. The senior midfielder also got an opportunity to play in Saturday’s Choice Hotels International High School All-American East vs. West Soccer Game on Saturday in Downingtown.
“It’s crazy to be recognized on a national level, and it really is just a great honor,” Hansen said by phone on Monday afternoon. “I couldn’t have done it without my team, and it just makes it all worth it, being able to share this with them. It’s the perfect ending.”
The Crusaders had a season for the ages, winning 20 of their 22 games en route to Catholic League and city titles. It allowed Hansen and his senior classmates to leave the school on top after failing to bring home the trophy in two previous title game attempts. It was an especially fulfilling ride for Hansen and his three senior co-captains — fellow midfielder Ryan Nork (also a La Salle commit), defender Joey Malvestuto and goalie Dan Sulpizio — who met in grade school and became best friends while they envisioned capturing a Catholic League soccer championship before they ever even stepped into the school as freshmen.
“When we were young, we started playing together and we always thought we would be the best,” Hansen recalled. “But to actually get there years later and not only win it, but doing it with your brothers, that’s something that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.”
Hansen is intense on the field, and good-natured and easygoing off it. It’s not in his nature to harp on individual accomplishments, so it was no surprise that he didn’t arrogantly puff his chest out in a boasting manner once he was named All-American.
That, his high school head coach said, is not what Hansen is all about.
“That’s typical of Joey … he doesn’t think of himself,” John Dunlop said. “He always puts his teammates first, because he knows he’s not an All-American if those guys weren’t as good as they were. He’s a humble boy, and nothing shakes or bothers him. It’s a thrill for me, for him and the school.”
And while the even-keeled Hansen wasn’t necessarily bursting at the seams with excitement, Dunlop was.
“To tell you the truth, these last few days I’ve felt like a kid at Christmas,” Dunlop said. “You can’t believe how excited people are for him, and what a tremendous honor this is. It’s so difficult to get there because there’s so many great ballplayers in this country, but it’s the resume he’s built the last four years. They have committees that decide these things, and Joey’s name kept popping up on their radar for a reason. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him.”
Dunlop and Hansen both said the East-West game was a memorable experience given the assembled talent and all the snow that fell in the area in the last week. For Hansen, it was another accolade to bookend and vindicate everything his team accomplished in their time together at the school.
And of course, for his teammates, it was another thing to make fun of Hansen for, because on a team that was this close, boys will most certainly be boys.
“They thought it was cool, basically the greatest thing ever,” Hansen said of his teammates’ reaction to the honor. “But they still make fun of me and said they’d go around bragging to people that they played with an All-American. At the same time, I know that they know they were a huge part of it, and that we got to this point together.”
For Dunlop’s part, he believes Hansen hasn’t even scratched the surface with how good he can be as a collegiate soccer player and later down the line to an adult contributing something to society. Hansen finished his Crusaders tenure ranked fourth in career points (59), eighth in career goals (17) and second in career assists (25), but, as Dunlop said, “His individual stats aren’t great, but it’s the other little things he does that makes the team great.”
“He’s very unselfish, he knows he can’t do it by himself,” Dunlop said. “He doesn’t walk around saying, ‘I’m Joey Hansen, I’ve done this and I’ve done that.’ All the awards he’s won has actually made him a better kid, and he brings that personality where other guys feel it and see it and want to feed off him. It’s a testament to who he is as a person. Some of it’s timing, and some of it’s luck, but he’s taken advantage of every opportunity this school has given him. It couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
Hansen will be honored as an All-American at a luncheon later this week, but really what he cares most about at this point is soaking up his last few months at a school that means the world to him. While Hansen knows he and Nork will be teammates for the next four seasons at La Salle, he also understands that college will pull other Father Judge friends in different directions, and he wants to cherish the time he has left with them.
“It went by faster than people say it does, and I don’t want to leave, even though I know I have to,” Hansen said. “It’s weird just going to school and then coming home, but I still see the guys and J.D. (Dunlop).
“All-American is an honor that has my name on it, but I know my teammates and coaches got me there. Father Judge emphasizes family, which is fitting, because we became brothers. For me, it’s easy to pass the torch and share it with them.” ••