Inspiring Alumni | Claire Hanna '04
By: Steve Hanulik, Contributing Writer
RESILIENCY... THROUGH THE HARD WORK OF LEARNING TO ENDURE CHALLENGES AND BECOME STRONGER.
Claire Hanna’s journey is a testament to the power of the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) motto: Nil nisi optimum — Nothing but our best. Following her graduation from STS in 2004, she earned a BA in Political Science with International Relations and a Masters of Management from the University of British Columbia, as well as an esteemed place in the UBC Thunderbirds Sports Hall of Fame for her sporting achievements. She retired as a member of Team Canada with a stunning total of three USports National Volleyball championship titles and took on an entirely new challenge — that of sports journalist.
Now the Ottawa Bureau reporter for TSN’s SportsCentre, Claire remains grateful for the rich and diverse education she received as an STS student. “It’s an amazing school that offers such a diverse amount of opportunities. Whether it’s academic, travel for study, or experiences… you could join the debate club, or the golf team, or the Outdoor Education program. There are so many different things that STS offers for curious minds. You’re never going to be able to quench that thirst because there are so many opportunities.”
With a Grade 12 Volleyball Provincial championship under her belt, Claire set her sights on university — and ultimately representing Canada. University, however, presented its own set of challenges. “I really wanted UBC…it was a process where I really had to convince the head coach to let me go on the team. I red-shirted (served as a practice player) in my first two years. In my second year they actually cut me. In my third year I tried out in a different position as a libero, even though I went to UBC as a middle blocker/outside hitter. So things really changed... if you’re not even making your college volleyball team how do you one day represent Canada?”
Fortunately, she had taken the STS motto to heart. “I just didn’t give up. I persevered, I changed volleyball positions. I took a different route but still got to that goal. I’m really proud I got to represent Canada in volleyball. I’ll always have a very fond memory of that.
Claire feels that her personal experiences as an athlete have allowed her to approach her role as journalist with a high degree of understanding and empathy. “I think even if you know what it’s like to play rec sports and dedicate yourself to your team, work all season long, and win a championship — I truly believe those feelings are the same as those you might feel if you’d won an Olympic championship, it’s just in front of a bigger audience. When I talk to some athletes and see either the pain they feel after a big loss or the joy after a major win, I know I’ve felt that way too.”
Sports journalism has taken Claire far beyond her own sport of volleyball. To date, she has provided on-air coverage for the NHL, CFL, Summer and Winter Olympics, and more. At the time of this interview she was preparing to cover Group B at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Tampere, Finland. Once again, she credits her own experience, both as an STS student and as an elite athlete on the world stage, for her ability to document and analyze a sport in which she has no personal background.
“I’m really proud that I’ve forged this career in journalism…I realized that just because you might be an expert in one sport doesn’t mean you can’t be great in others, if you’re good at your craft. Even in covering the NHL — I never played hockey growing up but I can still cover hockey at a high level at the world championships. It’s honestly a dream come true that I’ve gotten to work in sports broadcasting for companies like CBC and TSN.”
“There are so many different things t hat STS offers for curious minds. You’re never going to be able to quench that thirst because t here are so many opportunities.”