Going west to be a Coyote
Ashley Olson is pretty excited about basketball.
The Blue Earth Area High School senior point guard can’t hardly wait for the first practice, which starts today, Monday, Nov. 15.
“I think we are going to be really decent this year,” she says. “I’m looking forward to it.”
But, the Buccaneer is also excited about the following year, when she will be a member of the University of South Dakota Coyote basketball team.
Olson signed a letter of intent to play at USD in a ceremony at BEA on Wednesday. She had verbally committed to the school on Nov. 2.
“I looked at some other schools, like Mankato, Southwest Minnesota State, Augie and St. Thomas,” she says. “But I just thought South Dakota was a good fit for me.”
Olson was especially impressed with Head Coach Ryun Williams and his two assistant coaches.
“They are the main reason I chose USD,” Olson says. “They really care about their players.”
Williams was also impressed with Olson.
“Ashley is a very explosive and competitive point guard,” Williams says. “She is a very consistent and solid leader who can really run a team.”
Olson’s current coach, Al Cue, couldn’t agree more.
“Ashley is an outstanding young lady,” Cue says. “She does things the right way on the court and in the classroom – she is an excellent student.”
Cue says he is very happy for Ashley with this signing.
“She has worked very hard over the years to make herself the player she is today. I’m excited for the upcoming season for her and for her future as a Coyote at USD.”
With still a full season to go as a Buccaneer, Olson already has some impressive stats.
She has made 97 three-pointers, for a 35 percent average. Plus, she is a 75 percent free-throw shooter.
She has accumulated 566 total points, 140 steals and 97 assists.
With more to come.
Last season Olson was an all-area selection as a junior, averaging 12.5 points per game and 3.2 steals.
She also is a two-time all-conference honoree for basketball, and three-time all-conference player in volleyball.
Besides being a great ball handler and shooter, Olson was praised for her abilities off the court by those at the Wednesday signing ceremony.
“I just always know Ashley will be a great representative for herself, her family, her team and her school, in everything she does,” Coach Cue said. “I would take seven or eight players like her every year.”
BEA High School Principal Jack Eustice echoed that Olson is an example of a terrific student.
“She is just a great kid and a wonderful leader,” he said. “She is going to have a great future at South Dakota.”
The Coyotes signed three other players last week, all from out of South Dakota; Lisa Loeffler of Maplewood, Taylor Moore of Milford, Neb., and Kelly Stewart of Amery, Wisc.
“Kelly and I played together on an AU team, North Tartans, last summer,” Olson says. “So it will be great to already know another member of the team.”
Olson says she thinks the Coyotes will be a good team this year, their last as members of the Great West Conference, where they have been picked to finish fourth in a preseason poll.
“Next year, when I am there, they are shifting into the Summit Conference,” Olson says. “We will be playing schools like South Dakota State and North Dakota State.”
Olson is the daughter of Jeff and Heidi Olson of Blue Earth. She has a younger brother, Bailey, who is a seventh grader at BEA.
Bailey is thinking of being on the track team this spring so he can compete with his older sister before she takes off for college, his father, Jeff, says.
Another reason Olson chose USD, according to her mother, Heidi, is that South Dakota has an excellent Physical Therapy department, a field Olson is looking at pursuing. She could stay there for graduate work, too, if she desired.
“We are very happy for her, and pretty excited about it,” Heidi Olson says. “This (choosing a college) has been pretty stressful on us (her parents) so you can imagine how stressful it must be on her.”
Olson admits it has been a lot of work to make the decision, but says she is sure it is the right one.
“I wanted to make the choice before basketball starts,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to think about it during my senior season.”
She will have enough to think about, with the Bucs having lost eight seniors from last year’s squad.
“People wonder if we are going to be able to be competitive after losing that many seniors,” Coach Cue says. “But we have kids who are going to be able to step up and fill those spots.”
Plus, the team doesn’t have to worry about the point-guard position. It is in the very capable hands of a future Coyote.