Hill-Murray, St. Odilia celebrating Olympic sisters

| February 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

Marissa Brandt, an alumna of Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood, plays hockey for the united Korean team in the winter Olympics. Brandt was adopted as a baby from South Korea and attended St. Odilia School in Shoreview before Hill-Murray. CNS photo/Reuters

Few schools can claim an Olympic athlete among its alumni base.

Even fewer schools have more than one, especially from the same family. Catholic schools Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood and St. Odilia School in Shoreview can claim the latter.

Hannah and Marissa Brandt, alumni of both schools, will compete in women’s hockey for the winter Olympic games, beginning Feb. 10 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The winter games commenced with a few events Feb. 7 and held its opening ceremony Feb. 9.

Hannah, a recent standout with the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, made the U.S. team for the first time. Marissa, who was adopted as a baby from South Korea, will play for the Unified Korean team.

Hill-Murray and St. Odilia recognized the Brandts’ achievements in the weeks leading up to the games. That includes a display of the Brandts’ successes in the St. Odilia school office.

Hannah Brandt poses with her adopted sister Marissa, left, on Christmas day in 2017 at the family home in St. Paul, Minn. The Catholic siblings participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics on separate ice hockey teams. Hannah Brandt played for the U.S. and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. CNS photo/Adam Bettcher, Reuters

“To have somebody that they [the students] can resonate with [and] that’s sat in the same desk as them, really inspires them a little bit more to go out and reach their goal because it seems a little bit more attainable,” said Brian Ragatz, St. Odilia principal.

Students 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.

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

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

“Not only are they great athletes, both Hannah and Marissa were [also] 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.”

Former Hill-Murray girls hockey standout Hannah Brandt plays for the U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team. CNS photo/Reuters

At St. Odilia, music teacher Carrie Northrop told her K-8 students about the schools’ two Olympians, whom she once taught.

“This 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 of Brandt’s Olympic aspirations.

Northrop noted that Marissa originally figure-skated but chose hockey because of her closeness to Hannah. Marissa had a standout career at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter before making the Korean team.

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