USA Hockey Magazine

February 2018

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H ANNAH BRANDT AND HER OLDER SISTER MARISSA won't be the only siblings competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. They wouldn't be the only sisters to skate with Team USA, if that was even in the cards. Instead, the Brandt sisters will be on opposite ends of the puck drop when the Olympic flame is lit in PyeongChang, South Korea. Hannah Brandt will be competing in her first Olympics with Team USA, while her older sister, Marissa, who was adopted from South Korea as an infant, will represent her place of birth. Growing up outside the Twin Cities, the sisters were pretty much inseparable. They competed on teams together since they were 10, but went their separate ways for college. Marissa played at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts school an hour south of Minneapolis, while Hannah attended the University of Minnesota. By the spring of 2015, Marissa thought she had played her final competitive hockey game when she received a call from Rebecca Baker, a local Div. III coach who also worked with South Korea's team. Two weeks later, she found herself on a plane bound for a country she hadn't been to since she was adopted as a baby. "I was really scared to go over," Marissa said. "I know nobody there, and I don't speak the language. It was really intimidating. I just didn't know what to expect." After spending the summer in South Korea, Marissa was one of three "import" players chosen to make the team. She made her national team debut in a lower-level world championship tournament at a 2018 Olympic venue in Gangneung. While her North American teammates used their English names, Marissa decided to use her Korean birth name, Park Yoon-Jung, on the back of her jersey. "At first, I was kind of hesitant, like I kind of wanted Brandt to be on my jersey because that's all I've known growing up," she said. "But now I guess, looking back, I'm very proud to wear my Korean name because that's my only tie to Korea." Looking ahead to the 2018 Games, the sisters are excited to share their Olympic journey with each other and their parents. Competing in separate groups for the Olympic tournament, South Korea is a long shot to make it to the medal round, so it's unlikely the Brandt sisters will play each other in PyeongChang. That won't make it any less special for the family. "It's unbelievable the way it's worked out," Hannah said. "I'm going for my first time. She's going for her first time. That makes it even more of a dream come true." P SEOUL SISTERS The Brandt Sisters Take A Long And Winding Road To Reach Their Olympic Dreams Photo by Andrea Mazzarelli FEBRUARY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 33

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