After being able to salvage a final season in a Cal State Bakersfield uniform, Emily Hansen didn't exactly get the victory lap she was looking for.
A local product from Centennial High School, Hansen finished strong in her final season with the Roadrunner beach volleyball team this spring, departing with 27 career wins, the fourth most in program history.
And while she was eligible to return for the 2021 indoor season — 2020 was canceled by COVID-19 — Hansen, a criminal justice major, elected to graduate and begin pursuing a career as a member of the California Highway Patrol.
Just wanting to take the court with her teammates a final time, Hansen participated in a series of indoor scrimmages at the close of the beach season, which, unfortunately, did not go as planned.
Six weeks ago, in a matchup against UC Riverside, Hansen overextended while attempting to make a play at the net, landing awkwardly. After being helped off the court, a visit to the doctor revealed a full tear of her Achilles.
"It was absolutely not the way I wanted to end my career," said Hansen, who is currently five weeks removed from surgery. "I knew I wasn't coming back for a fifth year so it didn't hurt a season or anything. But not being able to finish was tough."
Despite the difficult finish, Hansen says she's perfectly content with how her career played out, particularly pleased that it happened in her hometown.
Having come up through the local club scene and Centennial High School, Hansen wasn't sure how she'd react to staying home for college. But after being the only local player on the Roadrunner indoor team over the last three seasons, she says she grew to appreciate the value of playing in the city where she grew up.
"It got more special as I matured and understood how much I was representing Bakersfield," Hansen said. "At first I was like 'Oh, yeah, hometown, that's great.' But I just really gained an understanding of how important it is to play for your hometown when you get a chance."
Hansen will now look to instill some of those same values into the next crop of local volleyball players. Having coached at the club level for six years, she's ready to take the next step, as she will coach the junior varsity team at Garces Memorial High School in the fall.
"I'm so excited to get to work with some hometown girls," she said. "And if they're interested in CSUB, maybe push them in the right direction (to) get some local representation."
Though her affinity for Bakersfield has grown in recent years, Hansen hopes to eventually spread her wings. Looking to start her law enforcement career, she says she would eventually like to migrate toward either Long Beach or the Bay Area.
But even if she eventually moves away, she insists Bakersfield will always be home.
"To be able to represent Bakersfield as a whole is something I'm very proud of," she said.