Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 11, 2011

Playing just for fun will help injured player's recovery

by Keith Peters

Aside from the women's college season, water polo is taking a break until the summer season. However, that won't stop hundreds of players from playing on Sunday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center for a very good cause.

Over the Thanksgiving break, Stanford Water Polo Club member and St. Francis High student Caroline Hansen was involved in a terrible auto accident, a rollover on Highway 280 that initially left her in a coma.

Hansen is out of that coma and taking steps on the road to a hopeful recovery.

"She is doing great, but has SO far to go," said Susan Ortwein of the Stanford Water Polo Club and the associate head coach of the Stanford University women's team. "Obviously, she still has some medical issues, but she is able to stand some with some support. She's working on speech therapy, but she can speak some. She recognized us when we walked in and can have a small conversation.

"I went a week ago and she has improved so much, just since then," continued Ortwein. "She has had a lot of support with many of her teammates having been able to visit her. It is very inspiring. Today, she was able to read all the get-well notes our team wrote for her. Caroline is one strong person."

The local water polo community will do its part to help Hansen in her recovery by hosting Sunday's fundraising tournament from noon to 4 p.m. The event is called the C3 Tournament, for Caroline's name and her cap number.

Each scrimmage will be 40 minutes long and is free and open to the public. Teams are coming from as far as Davis. Four Masters teams will be playing, along with some alumni teams, coaches and players from the Stanford Water Polo Club and Hansen's teammates from St. Francis.

Former Menlo School and current Stanford women's assistant coach Kyle Utsumi is planning on playing, in addition to coaxing some club coaches to do likewise.

At St. Francis, Hansen helped the Lancers win two Central Coast Section Division I water polo titles in addition to playing on the school's basketball team. She is a veteran member of the Stanford Water Polo Club has competed in two USA 20-Under National Championships in addition to numerous Junior Olympics.

Swim caps with Hansen's C3 logo will be sold. Those who make donations are invited to a post-tourney get-together catered by the Old Pro.

Hansen was seriously injured in a multiple-car pileup in late November. She was on her way to watch the St. Francis volleyball team play in a NorCal semifinal match when the accident occurred.

Hansen scored a goal in the Lancers' 6-5 loss to Menlo-Atherton in the CCS Division I championship game on Nov. 20. She was a first-team all-West Catholic Athletic League selection this past season.

For further information, contact Susan Ortwein at sortwein@stanford.edu (725-9016) or Kyle Utsumi at kyleutsumi@gmail.com.

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