Ele Hanson

The Ele Hansen Award is given to two senior female students who bring to a sport the joy of participation and who have positively influenced others through their example, service and leadership in the athletic (varsity or club) and recreation program.

Hansen designing the Women’s Physical Education Department schedule

Hired by Carleton College’s President Gould in 1952, Eleanor “Ele” Hansen, chaired the Women’s Physical Education Department, taught PE classes, and coached the Softball and Women’s Cross-Country teams for 34 years. Along with her life partner, Pat Lamb, Ele advocated for women’s physical education to ensure Carleton was ahead of its time in offering a wide range of PE classes and resources. One project Ele highly encouraged was the building of the “The Women’s Gym” (also known as Cowling Recreation Center) in 1965 which then became the epicenter of the feminist movement on campus. In 1970, Ele and Pat began to purchase yellow sweats for women Carleton athletes. They insisted on the color for “safety” purposes at the time but also to make a statement and create a sense of identity and pride for women athletes on campus. More information regarding the banana sweats as they have come to be known can be found here. 

This award publicly honors Professor Eleanor “Ele” Hansen, Chair of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics for Women from 1952-1986, in appreciation for the generosity, enthusiasm, and warmth she shared with generations of Carleton students. Upon Hanson’s retirement in 1986, her friends, colleagues, and former students created a fund to endow this award. More information about both Ele and Pat can be found in this Voice Article

Carleton softball calls Ele Hansen Field their on-campus home. Located just north of the Carleton Recreation Center, the field was originally constructed prior to the 2010 season and is named in honor of one of the true matriarchs of women’s athletics at Carleton.

The Hansen award is voted on by all head coaches of varsity women’s sports and the director and assistant director of Rec Center programs. This award will be presented at the Annual Knights Awards Banquet.

Past Award Winners

bird's eye view of a softball field where a game is happening
Ele Hansen Field