Former NFL player signs with Southern Vermont Storm
BENNINGTON — The Southern Vermont Storm have signed an NFL veteran to their team for the first time in the 15 year history of the semiprofessional football organization. Wade Hansen agreed to a contract with the Storm for the 2020 season. Hansen was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2016 NFL preseason, appearing in two preseason games for the AFC North squad.
The Storm compete in the New England Football League (NEFL) and are a member of the North Atlantic (AA) Conference. After making it to the league championship last year, the team hopes the addition of Hansen will bring continued success.
Team General Manager Chris Cipperley is excited for what this signing means for the organization.
"It just kind of goes to show that we're heading in the right direction. We're an organization that people trust in. Having him be willing to come play for us means a lot," said Cipperley.
Hansen is excited to get started with his new team.
"I think it's pretty cool to be back at home and have people come and watch me play that maybe didn't get the chance to watch me in college," said Hansen.
Cipperley wants to use Hansen's versatility and sees him playing many different positions for the Storm.
On the offensive side, he mentioned the possibility of the 6 foot 5 tall Hansen playing tight end as well as his natural offensive tackle spot. As for the defensive side of the ball, Cipperley said Hansen could line up in multiple positions.
"He's talented enough to play anywhere in the front seven," said Cipperley.
"It's hard to say he's an underrated athlete because of the success he's had and the places he's played, but I don't think he gets enough credit for how athletic he is," he continued.
Those places include Virginia Tech. Hansen was a starter for the ACC school after transferring from RPI to the Division 1 program. It was at Virginia Tech that Hansen made the switch from defensive to offensive line.
"He's kind of like a 5-tool player in baseball, there isn't much he can't do and there isn't much he isn't willing to do to help the team. That right there makes the best-fit possible," said Cipperley.
Hansen and Cipperley are no strangers to one another. The two grew up around one another, as Cipperley used to hang around Hansen's uncle, Billy Roberts.
Roberts played for the Storm 12 years ago and Hansen recalls telling his uncle that maybe one day he'd play for the team, too. That idea as a kid is now a reality.
"It's been about a 15 year process from the that that I've known him to the time that he's playing for us. It's been a long journey," said Cipperley.
"Coming back home, I thought it was a no-brainier to play for a guy I've known for a long time and that I trust," said Hansen.
Hansen's goal for this year is to get the storm back to the championship and finish the job.
"Nobody wants to finish second. These guys still play because they have that drive to compete. Hopefully I can come in and help them out," he said.
To achieve that goal, he must stay in playing shape. With gyms currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Hansen is finding unique ways to stay fit.
Hansen said he's currently running hills and working on the family farm, as well as doing workouts with resistance bands while gyms remain closed.
Hansen's playing weight peaked around 320 pounds at one point, but he now weighs in anywhere from 255 to 260. He said he feels more athletic playing at his current weight.
Hansen's football career started to take off as he starred for Tamarac High School in Troy, N.Y.
Cipperley, as well as Storm co-owner Patrick Seaver, also attended Tamarac.
After being cut by the Steelers in the final wave of roster moves at the end of the 2016 preseason, Hansen's football career brought him to Japan where he played for the Elecom Kobe Finies.
Hansen then played for the Arena Football League's Albany Empire in 2018.
Most recently, Hansen played for the New Hampshire Charge, now known as the New Hampshire Nor'easter of the NEFL. The Nor'easter compete in the Colonial (AAA) conference.
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