BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Senior Emilee Olsen (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter HS) is a center for the Birmingham-Southern women's basketball team. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, Olsen is no stranger to success as a student-athlete. She was named the Southern Athletic Association Defensive Player of the year last season, leading the conference in blocks and rebounds per game. In addition to her defensive contributions, Olsen also led the Panthers with an average of 13.2 points per game. Her outstanding all-around performance earned her a spot on the First-Team All-SAA.
Olsen had been recruited to play at Birmingham-Southern. She was never very interested in coming to BSC, but her mom implored her to contact Head Coach Mike Ricks upon his hiring to see what opportunities opened up. From that point on, Ricks came to every single AAU game Olsen played, no matter the distance. His intentionality did not go unnoticed by Olsen, and it swayed her enough to take a visit to the campus. She was able to play pickup with the team and clicked with them nicely, and felt at home while on campus. Despite loving her visit, she wasn't dead set on attending Birmingham-Southern immediately afterwards. But whenever she would visit another school, she found herself always comparing it back to Birmingham-Southern. At that point, she came to the realization that she wanted to be a Panther.
Part of the reason that Olsen was so drawn to Birmingham-Southern was its small size. She went to a high school of 2,500 students, and was wanting to have a smaller school experience in college. Part of that experience she has grown to love, is her relationships with her professors. Olsen can often find at least one of them sitting in the stands cheering her on during a game, and frequently gets texts from them congratulating her on her performances. Professors will also want to talk basketball with her before class, which is endearing to her because it shows they care about the lives of students.
Olsen chose her major in this manner, similar to how she chose to attend Birmingham-Southern. She had pinned economics and political science as two majors she was interested in, and after taking an economics class in her first fall semester, she found she was sad she wasn't enrolled in one during the spring. Realizing this, she decided that econ was the field of study she would pursue. Olsen isn't set on pursuing any particular job, but she does know she wants to go to graduate school.
Before she played basketball, Olsen played tennis competitively. She didn't even discover basketball until her freshman year of high school, but after finding how much she enjoyed it, she had a conversation with her parents about her next steps. "After freshman year we sat down and [my parents] said, 'Is this what you want to do: play in college?' and I said, 'Yes, I think this is what I want to do. And here I am now.'" For Olsen, a facet of basketball that stands apart from tennis, is the team aspect of the sport. "I love the competition and comradery that comes with it," Olsen said. "I think the reason why I didn't like tennis as much is because it was just me against someone else, and every time I played a team sport I was with a bunch of girls, another group of people, going to accomplish this one goal. So I think that's why I fell in love with basketball so quickly."
Olsen cited two professional athletes who inspire her: future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett, and tennis great Serena Williams. Olsen cites Williams' perseverance and work ethic in her sport as admirable traits, coming back from pregnancy and still dominating on the court. Olsen's father is also a Celtics fan, and encouraged her to model her game after former Celtics' big men Kevin Garnett and Kevin McHale. Olsen developed an affinity for old school post play on the court because of this, which is hard to find in modern day basketball.
She said one of the most defining traits of her personality is her level-headedness, both on and off the court. Even in stressful situations, Olsen is rarely rattled, which makes it easier to pick other people up. This skill will surely help her this season, and in her next season of life.
What is your favorite food?
Mac n' Cheese.
Who is you favorite music artist/band?
What is your favorite sports team?
What is your favorite TV show?
The Walking Dead.
What is your favorite candy?
Brookside chocolate covered fruit.
Hot weather or cold weather?
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