KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Olathe Northwest baseball player is heading to Spring training with the Houston Astros organization but he first stopped by Olathe South High School and Olathe West High School to talk about his struggles with his friend’s suicide and dealing with death.
Austin Hansen was 14 years old and a freshman at Olathe Northwest High School when he met Conner Taylor, a junior, on the baseball team. Taylor was two years older than him.
“I got called up to suit up for a varsity game and just kind of hangout at the dugout and he was one of the one kids that was there and willing to talk to me and like take me under his wing,” said Hansen.
It was Taylor’s personality that made the two of them hit it off.
“He was super funny. He was always smiling and he was a kid that was like, he would do anything for you,” said Hansen.
But Taylor was dealing with a lot off the diamond. In 2016, when the two of them were at different colleges playing baseball, Taylor took his own life.
Hansen found out from a phone call from another friend.
“I was like, wow this is unbelievable I can’t believe this is happening and then I hung up the phone and 30 minutes later I had to go to practice,” said Hansen.
But Austin held his emotions inside.
“I’ll deal with it myself like I’ll deal with it internally,” said Hansen.
After about a year, Austin’s love for baseball diminished.
“I went up to my coach and was like I can throw a perfect game in College World Series right now and I would not care and I started balling after practice,” said Hansen.
So he finally decided to take action and get some help.
“I was like I can’t live like this anymore I have to deal with my problems or I’m going to end up like Conner,” said Hansen.
After holding back, Austin eventually told his parents what he was going through.
“It was tough for us as parents to deal with it because we wanted to help him and we wanted to try and fix his pain and you can’t,” said Dawn Hansen, Austin’s mother.
But now Hansen worked his way from Olathe Northwest High School to the Oklahoma Sooners and now pitching for the Houston Astros organization. When he gets to the mound, he thinks about his friend, Conner.
“I have a little gesture I have his number tattooed on my side so I touch it and point to the sky just to know that I’m like doing this for you and please look over me while I’m out here,” said Hansen.
On Friday, Hansen shared his story in front of a group of Olathe athlete from South and West hoping this inspires them to speak up with his foundations, Athletes Cares.
“We want to impact one person, if I’ve impacted one person out of this whole entire group today, then I did my job,” said Hansen, “If everyone can just impact one person a day then it will turn into million and millions of people”.