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Hana Scott was both excited and nervous. Moving to a new country gave her mixed emotions.

In her native Ethiopia, the United States is considered a “picture perfect” place to live. But for the 11 year old who only knew a couple English words, she wasn’t sure what her future would hold.

When she arrived at the airport, the Scotts greeted her with a crew of family members. Upon entering their home in Helena, Hana’s sister Tessa, who was also adopted by the Scotts, freaked out when she saw the family’s dogs as pets. Since dogs aren’t domesticated in Ethiopia, Tessa jumped onto their dad.

Thus was the start of Scott’s adjustment to America.

“It wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was then,” Scott said, “but now I look at it, I had my family who were there to support me and help me out whenever I needed to ask something or translate something for me.”

The family moved to Bozeman a few months later, and now about seven years since leaving her homeland, Scott has settled in on the Hawks’ varsity soccer team. Bozeman enters the Class AA state tournament as the east’s No. 2 seed and will face Missoula Sentinel at noon today in the opening round in Helena, and the senior forward is tied for a team-high six goals.

Scott has challenged opposing defenses with her speed, and head coach Erika Cannon noted her intelligent runs without the ball. She’s steadily progressed over the years and is making a difference in her first varsity season.

“She’s always been on our radar as somebody that was going to be dangerous as a senior,” Cannon said. “Coming in, she’s just done a great job for us and she’s just so fun to watch play.”

Growing up in the small town of Durme, the most popular activities were running and playing hide and seek. It wasn’t until living with brothers Ted, a senior on Bozeman’s boys varsity team, and Simon, currently in eighth grade, that Scott began playing soccer. The two brothers would play about every day so Scott began, too.

At first, she didn’t take the sport too seriously, but her focus on soccer increased as she continued growing comfortable with her new situation. Instead of reading on her own to pick up English, Scott listed to music — any genre except for rock — and learned the language by figuring out the meaning of lyrics.

Initially, Scott wasn’t used to the cold temperatures since she moved in the middle of winter. Seeing dogs as pets took time to get used to. She was also taken aback by Bozeman’s cleanliness, a contrast from what she grew up with.

But the transition came with challenges, too. While living in Helena, Scott said she was offered drugs and at the time but was unfamiliar with the effects they can have. Ted steered her away from such situations and continued to assist her while she adjusted to a new country.

“Having him in the same grade, it helped because when I’m in trouble, he’s the one I call,” Scott said. “He’s there for me since the first day.”

When Scott moved, she learned about racism for the first time. She’s thankful she hasn’t personally faced any harmful situations but simply finding out about the topic and examples of racism scared her.

Scott also struggled opening up to people and had to find ways to develop trust with her new family. She was upset her parents in Ethiopia sent her away and struggled grappling with that. In Ethiopia, Scott was raised by a single mother with about 10 siblings, which was just too much for her to handle, Scott guesses.

At the time, Scott didn’t quite know how to express herself. She prefers to keep her emotions to herself and blurt them out at once rather than speaking openly all the time.

“I don’t know where I belong. It kind of is hard sometimes for me to say ‘I’m Ethiopian,’ or am I American?” Scott said. “So I don’t know. It’s tough.”

This dilemma remains in the back of Scott’s thoughts and doesn’t bother her much. Over time, she’s developed trust with her new family, something she originally didn’t have. Simultaneously, she’s improved on the field and is now a key member of the Hawks’ offense.

When Scott first moved to the United States, she was reluctant to open up and share her feelings. But as she’s grown more comfortable, she appreciates her family and the opportunities she’s received.

“I don’t show a lot of affection,” Scott said, “but I’m thankful for what I have and having them as my parents and pushing me to do better every day is something that I’m really thankful for.”

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Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

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