Sisters from Minnesota Catholic schools play on separate Olympic teams

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adam Bettcher, Reuters

By Matthew Davis

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Few schools can claim an Olympic
athlete among their alumni base.

fewer schools have more than one, especially from the same family. But Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood and St. Odilia School in
Shoreview — both Catholic schools — are proud to make this claim.

That’s because
Hannah and Marissa Brandt, graduates of both schools, play on women’s Olympic
ice hockey teams competing in this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Hannah Brandt,
a recent standout with the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, is a forward for the U.S. Olympic team, which defeated Finland 3-1 on Feb. 11 and will play Olympic Athletes from Russia Feb. 13. Marissa Brandt, who was adopted as a baby from South
Korea, used her birth name, Park-Yoon Jung, for the Olympics and plays defense
for the combined Koreas, which lost 8-0 to
Switzerland Feb. 10.

and St. Odilia recognized the sisters’ achievements in the weeks leading up to
the games. The St. Odilia school office has a display of the Brandts’ successes.

Ragatz, St. Odilia principal, said students are encouraged knowing that these
athletes sat in the same desks as they do. He said it “really inspires them a
little bit more to go out and reach their goal, because it seems a little bit
more attainable.”

at Hill-Murray held a red, white and blue dress-up day during National Catholic
Schools Week. They wore the colors to raise funds for parents of Olympians to
attend the games.

had T-shirts and sweatshirts made to celebrate the Brandts. The school will
also televise their games in the commons area.

Erin Herman said the Brandt sisters excelled on and off the ice in high school.

only are they great athletes, both Hannah and Marissa were outstanding students
and all-around wonderful young women,” Herman said. “They are both
humble and kind; you would not have known they were Olympic athletes when you
met them in the hall.”

At St.
Odilia, music teacher Carrie Northrop told the elementary school students
about the schools’ two Olympians, whom she taught.

had been a goal of Hannah’s since she was a little girl. This was something she
talked about when she was going through elementary school,” Northrop said.

said Marissa Brandt originally was more of a figure skater but chose hockey because of
her closeness to her sister. Marissa Brandt had a standout career at Gustavus Adolphus
College in St. Peter before making the Korean team.

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Davis is
on the staff of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St.
Paul and Minneapolis.

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