Shooter Shane Hanson Is Giving Back
In all my years covering local sports, one of the best long-range shooters I ever saw was former Chaminade star Shane Hanson.
At various times during his collegiate career, the 6-foot-6 forward from Southern California set records for consecutive three-pointers made, led the nation in three-point shooting for a while and knocked down numerous game-winning or game-changing shots. There were times it seemed as if he could toss in a long, one-handed shot from the very moment he walked into McCabe Gym. And knowing his love for shooting, he probably did.
“I prided myself in taking at least a thousand shots a day,” Hanson tells me, recalling the work ethic that led to a championship Chaminade career from 2007 to 2011. “I was fortunate that I had parents who supported me in my love for the game, and a dad who taught me fundamentals from an early age.”
Hanson never lost sight of the opportunities basketball brought him, so when recurring injuries ended his potential for a professional basketball career in Europe after college, the former Silversword decided to give back.
“I had been to Serbia twice before teaching basketball, so when I graduated, I received a call from the embassy there asking if I would be interested in running a ‘Peace Camp,’” he recalls. “A Peace Camp is more than just about sports; it’s about life skills and teamwork, and getting people together. I didn’t know a word of their language, so I communicated through basketball.”
The country had been devastated by constant wars as the former Yugoslavia splintered a few years before. Basketball would help bring the children of the war-torn region together.
“They were from Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, and for a while they huddled in their groups, but as the days went on, they became one,” Hanson recalls. “By the time the 10-day camp was finished, they were all hugging and crying together; it was a 180-degree turn and the most impactful sports experience of my life.”
On the 24-hour plane ride back to the Islands, Hanson decided that this kind of moment needed to be shared. He came up with the idea of a nonprofit organization called Progression Athletics that would work with disadvantaged youths both in the United States and around the globe. Since 2011, he has put together sports clinics and sports camps in Serbia, Greece and the Philippines, as well as in California, Tennessee and Washington.
“My goal is to start this in every major market in the U.S. and to continue our work globally,” he explains. “One of our next steps is bringing it to Hawaii.”
Hanson, who at age 26 now lives in Simi Valley north of Los Angeles, loves the Islands. His wife Kayla is a graduate of the University of Hawaii, and they have a 6-month-old daughter, Parker Faye. His full-time job is in the financial industry, but his passion is his nonprofit organization and helping at-risk children.
“The kids we work with don’t have the benefits I had,” he says. “We want to help those who have been abused, neglected, disadvantaged or at risk. We can do that through basketball, but there is more to our camps than just sports. In the Philippines, we went to a very dangerous area of Manila, an area that was disease-riddled. We brought diapers and medical supplies and more, and we taught life skills that made an impact.
“College sports is often about me, me, me or I, I, I,” he says. “What we want to do is show that college athletes can give back. I believe we can really help.”
Shane Hanson continues to give back every time he steps on a basketball court these days, and he continues to score long range. You can find out more about his organization at progressionathletics.org.