Crystal Hanson-Garrett (Benson, 1988)

Crystal Hanson-GarrettCrystal Hanson-Garrett

Crystal Hanson-Garrett (Benson, 1988)
School: Benson Graduation Year: 1988

Year Inducted: 2022

Sports Played: Basketball, Track and Field

High School Honors: 3 Basketball letters.
4 Track & Field letters. PIL 100m champion, PIL 2nd in 4x100m relay; 1st in State in 4x100m relay (first Girls’ team or individual to win a State title in any sport for Benson); 3rd in State in 100m dash, all in Sophomore year. PIL Champions in 4x100m and 4x400m relays as a Junior

Post High School Career: Attended Oregon State University (1988-1993), Director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, BS degree in Social Services (1993); University of Washington Master’s Degree in Social Services (1995). Listed in Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities. 27 years in the Washington State Dept. of Child and Family Services; Manager since 2014 in Dept. of Aging & Long-Term Care Disability Services.


My oldest brother Garrett attended Benson High School and made for me my first wooden jewelry box. Benson was an all-boys school when he attended and later opened the doors to include girls. Observing my brother attend this school had a lasting impression on me and was why I chose Benson–one of the best choices I ever made. Thank you, Garrett.

I came from Humble beginnings as my mother, Rachel Hanson, was a single mother and raised four children independently. I lived and grew up with my brother Garrett Hanson, sister Allison Hanson, brother Byron Garrett, and me, I was the youngest of four. My mother was a warrior, Queen! She is strong, resilient, and showed compassion for the less fortunate. She taught me how to respect others, to work hard, and to NEVER give up on my dreams and aspirations. My mother taught me to be the best version of myself, not to settle for anything less, and not to allow anyone to stop me from achieving my goals and dreams. So, thank you mom for teaching me strong values and for always believing in me. I was very fortunate to also have God-parents and God sisters and brothers: my god father Bishop Curtis Doakes, First Lady Annie Doakes, god sisters, Valarie Doakes, Sherrie Doakes, god brothers Curtis and Micah Doakes. When I wasn’t at home, or track meets, you could find me spending time with my God-family. Here is where I learned the importance of having a relationship with God and this relationship proved to me the most important thing to me. I was very spiritual, always praying, fasting, and reading the Bible. This was the key to my success.

In my freshman year I recall taking a required Physical Education class with Ms. Peterson. I remember running a few miles and lapping some of the other classmates. I would finish and wait patiently on the side lines for the others to complete their run. One day, after I completed my laps, Ms. Peterson introduced me to Mr. Leon McKenzie, the girls track coach. It was Ms. Peterson who saw my potential and steered me in the right direction. Then Mr. McKenzie took over from there. Little did I know how much Mr. McKenzie would grow to be so important to me and play such a pivotal role in my life. Mr. McKenzie was and still is one of the greatest track coaches ever! Under Mr. McKenzie’s coaching, I learned, endurance, hard work, respect, team work, leadership, and love for oneself and others.

I remember joining summer track clubs and traveling to Idaho, Utah, and at various locations throughout Oregon. All of these competitions made me stronger, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was one of the girls track team leaders. On the relay, if someone expressed fear, I said, “just give me the stick.” When we were all tired from running Mr. McKenzie’s rigorous workout routines, I said, we need a moto, “no pain, no gain.” I encouraged, inspired, pushed, and supported the track team. The track team had developed very close relationships, it was like having another family. We grew to love, care, and support one another. I observed Mr. McKenzie coach and bring everyone to their best potential through rigorous work outs and healthy eating. I believe Mr. McKenzie assisted Benson in obtaining the first salad bar at Benson High School.

My Senior year 1988, I was running faster than I had ever ran before and I was excited to see how far I could go in competitions. But, I got pneumonia and was unable to run in the qualifying track meets to compete for placement at the State level. I was heartbroken. There were scouts from colleges and Universities who had come to see me and others run that day. Today, I often think about how far I may have been able to go in Track, if I had the chance to run. I realize that God had a plan for me and He never make any mistakes.

I married Henry Garrett in March of 1995. We have been happily married for 27 years. We have four children, daughters Cierra and Jerrice and sons Henry Jr. and Christopher. To God be the glory for the things He has done. I thank my husband for his support and my children who have all taught me the greatest lesson in life, how to love. Never give up on your dreams, always believe in God and develop your own relationships with Him and whatever you strive to do in life, do it with God first. God will place people like Mr. McKenzie in your life and it will be up to you to choose whether or not to accept it.

I never would have made it without God, my family, God-family, and Mr. McKenzie’s guidance and support. There were so many times he paid out of his pocket for me to compete. I dedicate this award to Mr. McKenzie because he had the vision, I just bought into his vision which I believe is one of the ways I became successful not only in track but in life. So, Congratulations Mr. McKenzie and to all of the Hall of Famers on a job well done.

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