SE: Coming to America

Junior golfer Hanna Roos earned the highest finish by a Wildcat at the Big 12 Championship with a 15th place finish.

May 6, 2012

This feature appeared in the Sunday edition of the K-State Sports Extra.

By Mark Janssen

Hanna Roos had not led the team all season long... until the end.
At last weekend's Big 12 Women's Golf Championship at the Lawrence Country Club, the K-State junior scored a 230, which included a final round 71, to place 15th at the league meet.  It was the highest Big 12 finish by a Wildcat since 2009 when Elise Houtz also placed 15th.
"It was a nice accomplishment, but all of us think about the team first, and we didn't place as high as we would have liked," said Roos of K-State's eighth-place team finish.  "But it was fun... especially the last round."
A final round of 71, which just happened to be her low round of her three-year career, and a final 18 holes that gave her a second Top 15 finish this year, and her sixth Top 20 placing of her career.
Not bad for someone playing by her lonesome as her family is roughly 4,700 miles away in Uppsala, Sweden (just north of Stockholm), and multiple-states away from her twin sister Maria, who is a member of the University of Cincinnati golf team in Ohio.
"It's far, but also just a phone call away," said Roos.  "My sister and I talk every day.  We're really close, so if something happens in a class, I'll call her to tell her about it.
Of being twins, Roos said, "It's not unusual to just have a feeling that it's the right time to call just to see if everything is good."
While twins, Hannah says her game is opposite of Maria's.
"She beats me in putting and chipping, and I hit drives and long irons better," she said.  "Some days she's better, other days I'm better."
And while each wants to win, at least Hannah doesn't want to win at her sister's expense.
"I can't think of anything worse than being in a playoff against her and winning," said Roos.  "I want to win, but I would never want my sister to lose."
While the Roos sisters were united in wanting to come to the U.S. to better their respective golf games, and to get an education - Hannah in graphics design and Maria in communication.
They were also on the same page in wanting to attend different schools.
"We both said it was time to go our separate ways," said Roos, whose sister first attended Mississippi State for two years.  "We had been together all the way through school, on the golf course and even had the same job at a cleaners.  In high school, people saw us as one, and we hated that.  We wanted to be two different people."
Giving full support to their daughters was Jan-Olof Roos and Cecilia Olsson-Roos.
"My mother had worked as a nurse in a couple foreign countries, including Israel at the age of 19.  She said, `Hannah, if you don't go you'll always regret it'," said Roos.  "My father said, `If this is what you believe in, then I believe in you.  You should go.' "
Ahhh, but yes, it was hard to say that good-bye to her folks who traveled to Manhattan with their daughter at the start of classes in the fall of 2009.
Giving a reflective gaze," Roos said, "Oh, there were tears... lots of tears.  It was tough because your parents are your safety net.  (Laughing) They are only a flight away, but it's a long flight.  Here I was in a new country, with new food, a new language and no friends at the time.  It was scary, but I never had second thoughts."
Roos, who also speaks French, knew a bit of English as the language is first taught in the fourth to fifth grade, and on through high school.  But as Roos explains, it was the Swedish version of English.
"When I first got here I tried to translate things back and forth, but finally I just said, `Hey, if I sound wrong, I sound wrong.'  I just blurted something out," said Roos, a 3.76 student in the classroom.  "I also took notes in lectures and translated them, but as I was doing that I would miss the next thing being said."
Saying she has been astounded by the importance Americans put on sports, Roos has had no problem with is translating a pair of loves from Sweden to America.  That's dance - jazz and tap - and that's golf.
"I'm minimizing my bad holes and not taking one bad hole to the next one, and my putting has improved, but still has a ways to go," said Roos, who returns to Sweden on May 15 for a summer of working on her personal game, plus coaching others aspiring to be the next Hanna Roos.
While enjoying her life in the central part of the U.S., she admits, "It's always good to go home.  When the plane lands in Stockholm... I can't describe it, but there's a special feeling about being back home."