Alumni Profile: Gerry Hansen ‘51
The Trinity College football program is without question one of the most successful teams in small college football and arguably the most accomplished Division III team in all of New England. Trinity had six undefeated seasons from 1911 to 1955, the best record among NESCAC schools seven times between 1970 and 1996, and five NESCAC titles and four perfect campaigns in the last seven years. There is no question the current Bantam teams are carrying on the tradition of success that has characterized Trinity football for over 100 years, and Head Coach Jeff Devanney relies heavily on that lasting Bantam football pride to help sustain the extraordinary and consistent excellence in many ways. The annual Trinity Football Golf Outing at the Hartford Golf Club, a networking and career services event for football players, an alumni mentoring program for students of color, and Trinity’s post-season banquet in February are some examples of specific ways that Trinity football alumni play a major role in the lives of current Trinity students. The man that Coach Devanney has relied on the most and some would argue the College’s Most Valuable Alum of the last 50 years, Gerry Hansen ‘51, personifies the determination and intensity that is necessary to win on a football field and in life.
"Gerry Hansen has an intense loyalty to Trinity and he pursues his goals for the College with tenacity," says his close friend of over 30 years and former Bantam football player and College trustee Jim Whitters ‘62.
"During his employment at the College, he was totally immersed in Trinity and left no stone unturned. He started the organization of the alumni clubs through the NAA in the late 1970’s without which the current impressive level of alumni involvement would not be possible. Gerry has done a great deal for me, and he has asked alot of me as well."
Hansen, who retired from his 31-year career at his alma mater where he wore many hats including
secretary of the College, director of alumni relations, and director of all College relations, including public relations and community relations. In addition, he acieved senior rank on the Board of Fellows, served as V.P. of the National Alumni Association for admissions, and was a huge supporter of Trinity athletics.
He has continued to play a major role helping students and alumni in any way he can. Even before he came back to Hartford to work for the College, Hansen helped identify top student-athletes for the football program in the Philadelphia area and talks with pride about the first student-athletes that he mentored throughout their collegiate lives and beyond. Others speak about the outstanding young men that Gerry helped however he could while he was at the College, including Steve LaFortune (‘82), whose son, Steve, is a freshman linebacker on the current squad and former football and wresting All-American Ray Jones.
"The football program has always been a great rallying point for the Trinity community," says Hansen. "Our football players and other athletes have gone on to be some of our greatest leaders, and we are lucky they continue to have great pride for their team long after their playing days are over."
Hansen started organizing the Trinity Touchdown Club in 2001 and called on some of these leaders to start the organization that would work at helping to support and grow the football program using the resources of its alumni, parents, and friends. Some of these former Bantam greats include ex-NFL QB Joe Shield ‘85, Paul Romano ‘81, Mike Foye ‘79, the late Patrick McNamara ‘80, and Touchdown Club President James Lane ‘92. Hansen identified 10 names in all to get the Club going and none turned him down.
Devanney’s plans to expand the golf outing and start the mentoring and networking programs for his players would simply not have been possible if not for Gerry Hanson. Hansen called his friend Macey Russell to talk about the mentoring program for students of color, and now Russell comes to campus each fall for this purpose. Hansen called his friend Jim Whitters to discuss a career networking event for football players, and Whitters quickly became the driving force behind it. Devanney inherited a nice golf event with 40 or so participants each year, but, after a call to his friend Gerry Hanson, the ninth annual tournament in May is a "can’t miss" event thats sells out each year and serves as Trinity football’s biggest fundraiser.
Hansen Hall stands on Vernon Street as a testament to its namesake, providing housing for Trinity students eager to make their mark just as Gerry Hansen provided and still provides whatever is needed by his College and any member of the Trinity family. Dedicated to all of Trinity’s teams, Hansen has enhanced the experience of countless Trinity student-athletes throughout the years. In 2004, the Bantam wrestling team was invited to compete in the National Duals Championships in Cleveland, Ohio by virtue of the only New England Duals Championship in the College’s history the previous season. Longtime Bantam wrestling coach Sebby Amato was having trouble fundraising for this once-in-a-lifetime experience for his team and turned to Hansen for help. Hansen responded with a determined look on his face, "This IS going to happen." And, of course, it did.