Humans of UWL: Hannah Hautala


Hannah Hautala. Photo taken by Jessica Fitzgerald.

Jessica Fitzgerald, Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Hannah Hautala, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, is a member of the UWL Gymnastics team. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hautala said that the team is what drew her to La Crosse and to UWL.

She said, “When I first visited UWL, the team atmosphere was very positive and it looked like a positive environment that I wanted to be in. The coaches are good at seeing you as a person and student rather than just an athlete and they support you through a lot of the things that you are going through in school and daily life.”

Hautala said that gymnastics has always been a big part of her life. She started the sport when she was two years old, and she started competing when she was six years old. “I’ve been doing it pretty much my whole life,” said Hautala, “My favorite event is beam because I really like the pace of a beam routine. I feel like it’s not too fast and energetic but it’s also not incredibly boring. Also, it feels really good when you hit a beam set.”

Even though being a student gymnast is a major part of her life, Hautala said that music is something that has impacted her life just as much. She said, “I joined the band when I was in the sixth grade and I played the flute all the way through my senior year of high school. During my first two years of high school, I was in the jazz band. During my junior and senior years, I did full orchestra which was a combination of our orchestra and band programs. It was like a full symphony orchestra and we did a lot of movie soundtracks. It was my favorite ensemble that I ever played in!”

Hautala carried her love for band to UWL and was a member of the UWL Concert Band in the fall of 2021 and 2022. When asked why she decided to play in the band at UWL, Hautala said, “I really missed playing in the band and playing my instruments. It’s always been a part of me. My siblings are very musical and would tell me about their musical endeavors and I would think ‘awe, I really miss that’ so that encouraged me to do it at UWL.”

According to Hautala, participating in the band while being a student-athlete wasn’t overwhelming for her. Instead, it gave her an outlet. She said, “Being a college athlete, it’s often just school and athletics but having music as a different little outlet is nice. I’ve always been someone who likes having many different groups that I’m a part of and that’s reflected in the clubs and organizations that I join. I try to be well-rounded. It’s a nice getaway from the stress of school and gymnastics.”

Hautala’s love for music is not something that she separates from gymnastics. She said, “At UWL Gymnastics, we each pick a song that plays while we wait for the floor judge to salute us to start. Everyone picks a pump-up song that gets you in the mindset to go have an awesome floor routine. It’s cool because it shows each gymnast’s personality. I chose ‘Lucid’ by Rina Sawayama!”

There are certain songs that Hautala uses to bring comfort when she struggles with being on the UWL Gymnastics team. She said, “A lot of the songs that I listen to help me process the emotions that I’m going through. The nature of those songs tells me exactly what I need to hear when I’m struggling with a certain skill or when I’m frustrated and feel like I’m falling behind. It’s comforting.

Some examples are ‘Grow Up’ by Stray Kids, ‘Illa Illa’ by B.I., and ‘Black Swan’ by BTS. There are also songs that remind me of good times in gymnastics. ‘Castle on the Hill’ by Ed Sheeran reminds me of road-tripping to meets with my mom.”

Hautala finds that she can most clearly combine her love for music and gymnastics with the music that she selected for her floor routine. She said, “With a floor routine it’s always fun to pick a song that reflects your personality so I picked ‘Pizza Day’ by Lucky Chops. I feel that it reflects my background in jazz bands. I love brass music and it also reminds me of my brother and his band.”

When Hautala is not focusing on gymnastics she has many other hobbies. She said that riding her bike is her safe space and that she likes to be outside doing activities like hiking. She also likes to try different coffee shops around La Crosse. “My favorite is Bean Juice!” said Hautala.

Hautala also likes to go to concerts. She said, “Two of the best concerts that I went to in 2022 were ONEUS because it was the first one after the COVID-19 pandemic so it hit differently, and Greyson Chance because he has been my favorite artist for years.”

Whether Hautala is practicing in the gym, hiking in the bluffs, creative writing at Bean Juice, or taking her bike for a ride, she said that she is sure to be listening to music. She said, “Music is very important to me. I do everything in my life with music. Whatever I listen to helps me get through what I’m feeling throughout the day as a student or as an athlete. And sometimes it’s in peculiar ways because why does my brain go to ‘Galway Girl’ by Ed Sheeran when I’m stressed? Who knows! That’s just how it is. I feel like both music and gymnastics are a part of me and have shaped my interests and my future. I hold them both very close and dear to my heart.”

Hannah Hautala’s playlist recommendations:

Listen while hiking in the bluffs:

-”Chasin’ Honey” by Wild Party

-”Off She Goes” by Bad Suns

-”Homerun Hitter” by Greyson Chance

For gymnastics practice:

-”Kiss You” by One Direction

-”Timber” by Pitbull

-”Pepas” by Farruko

To calm your mind while writing:

-”So Beautiful” by DPR IAN

-”Fly To My Room” by BTS

-”Taro” by alt-J

The best band music:

-”L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2: 4. Farandole” by Georges Bizet

-”Prairie Song” by Carl Strommen

-”Sòlas Ané” by Samuel R. Hazo

If you need to be hyped up:

-”Like a Girl” by Lizzo

-”Lucid” by Rina Sawayama

-”Win” by ATEEZ

Great road trip songs:

-”Clap” by SEVENTEEN

-”Eye Contact” by ONEUS

-”Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran