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Sisters from Minnesota Catholic schools play on separate Olympic teams


  • Hannah Brandt poses with her adopted sister Marissa, left, on Christmas day in 2017 at the family home in St. Paul, Minn. The Catholic siblings participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics on separate ice hockey teams. Hannah Brandt played for the U.S. and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. (CNS photo/Adam Bettcher, Reuters)
  • Marissa Brandt poses while celebrating Christmas in 2017 at the family home in St. Paul, Minn. Marissa Brandt, who is adopted, and her sister, Hannah Brandt, participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics on separate ice hockey teams. Hannah Brandt played for the U.S. and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. The siblings are Catholic. (CNS photo/Adam Bettcher, Reuters)
  • South Korean ice hockey player Marissa Brandt skates during a 2017 game in Hamden, Conn. At the 2018 Olympics, Marissa Brandt, who is adopted, played for the combined Koreas, and her sister Hannah, competed for the United States. The two athletes are Catholic. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)
  • Hannah Brandt poses while celebrating Christmas in 2017 at the family home in St. Paul, Minn. Hannah and her adopted sister, Marissa Brandt, participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics on separate ice hockey teams. Hannah Brandt played for the U.S. and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. (CNS photo/Adam Bettcher, Reuters)
  • Hannah Brandt poses with her adopted sister, Marissa, left, in an undated photo at the family home in St. Paul, Minn. The Catholic siblings participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics on separate ice hockey teams. Hannah Brandt played for the U.S. and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. (CNS photo/Greg Brandt, handout via Reuters)
  • U.S. women's ice hockey player Hannah Brandt practices in 2017 in Boston. Hannah and her adopted sister, Marissa, competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Hannah Brandt played for team USA and Marissa Brandt for the combined Koreas. The two athletes are Catholic. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Few schools can claim an Olympic athlete among their alumni base.

Even fewer schools have more than one, especially from the same family. But Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood and St. Odilia School in Shoreview -- both Catholic schools -- are proud to make this claim.

That's because Hannah and Marissa Brandt, graduates of both schools, play on women's Olympic ice hockey teams competing in this year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Hannah Brandt, a recent standout with the University of Minnesota women's hockey team, is a forward for the U.S. Olympic team, which defeated Finland 3-1 on Feb. 11 and will play Olympic Athletes from Russia Feb. 13. Marissa Brandt, who was adopted as a baby from South Korea, used her birth name, Park-Yoon Jung, for the Olympics and plays defense for the combined Koreas, which lost 8-0 to Switzerland Feb. 10.

Hill-Murray and St. Odilia recognized the sisters' achievements in the weeks leading up to the games. The St. Odilia school office has a display of the Brandts' successes.

Brian Ragatz, St. Odilia principal, said students are encouraged knowing that these athletes sat in the same desks as they do. He said it "really inspires them a little bit more to go out and reach their goal, because it seems a little bit more attainable."

Students at Hill-Murray held a red, white and blue dress-up day during National Catholic Schools Week. They wore the colors to raise funds for parents of Olympians to attend the games.

Hill-Murray had T-shirts and sweatshirts made to celebrate the Brandts. The school will also televise their games in the commons area.

Principal Erin Herman said the Brandt sisters excelled on and off the ice in high school.

"Not only are they great athletes, both Hannah and Marissa were outstanding students and all-around wonderful young women," Herman said. "They are both humble and kind; you would not have known they were Olympic athletes when you met them in the hall."

At St. Odilia, music teacher Carrie Northrop told the elementary school students about the schools' two Olympians, whom she taught.

"This had been a goal of Hannah's since she was a little girl. This was something she talked about when she was going through elementary school," Northrop said.

Northrop said Marissa Brandt originally was more of a figure skater but chose hockey because of her closeness to her sister. Marissa Brandt had a standout career at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter before making the Korean team.

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Davis is on the staff of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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