The Brandt sisters of Minnesota made their dreams come true – they both got to play in the Olympics. Their story is different than most others, though, considering that Hannah played for the U.S. and Marissa suited up with the Korean team.
In 1992, Marissa Brandt was born in Korea as Park Yoon-Jung. In 1993, when she was just four months old, she was adopted by Americans Greg and Robin Brandt. Right before she arrived in the U.S., the Brandts found out that they were pregnant with Hannah.
The two sisters, at less than a year apart, grew up as best friends. As young girls, they took figure skating lessons together, and once Hannah switched over to hockey, Marissa soon followed. The two played together on their high school team and both went on to find success on the ice in college. Marissa played for Gustavus Adophus and Hannah for the University of Minnesota. Hannah went on to play professionally and has been part of several national teams.
In 2015, Marissa got a call from one of the South Korean assistant coaches. She flew to her birth country for a tryout, and she’s been with the team since. The Korean team is unique, including athletes from both North and South Korea as well as North American-born players. The team is led by coach Sarah Murray, who is Canadian.
In one sense, Marissa and Hannah turned out to have very different Olympic experiences. The Korean team only managed to score a few times and didn’t come away with a win. The Americans beat Canada in dramatic fashion to earn their first gold medal in 20 years.
The two sisters from Minnesota, though, got to share an incredible experience with each other and their families, realizing their Olympic dreams.