Prep Athlete of the Year: Lauren Olsen
When Lauren Olsen set foot on campus as a freshman at Douglas High School last fall, she did not waste time showing off her athleticism. In her first high school campaign, she lettered in volleyball, basketball and soccer, but her star shined brightest on the basketball court while helping lead the Lady Bearcats to another 3A state championship in March.
DOUGLAS, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - When Douglas’ Lauren Olsen stepped onto campus for the first time last fall, the freshman’s first athletic assignment was playing setter for the varsity Lady Bearcats volleyball team. She was a starter in three varsity sports in her inaugural high school campaign. She played integral roles for the volleyball, basketball, and soccer teams at Douglas High School, but her star shined brightest on the basketball court.
“You better be ready because she’s a fireball,” said Corey Davidson, a volunteer coach for the Douglas girls basketball program and one of Olsen’s mentors, when asked to describe Lauren Olsen to someone who’s never met her. “She’s a blast to be around. She is that kid that [just] gets it. She knows when to joke, [and] she knows when to be serious. I think that’s one thing she brought to the team last year, even just as a freshman, as good as she is and as hard as she works, she also has fun. When you’re around her, you better have energy because she’s going to bring it no matter what she does.
“She’s just a great kid. I say it all the time [that] as much as I love her as an athlete, and I love being able to help coach her and watch her grow into a young lady and watch her in volleyball and basketball. I also just get to be around her as a person, and that’s even better.”
Olsen was our Wyoming News Now Prep Athlete of the Week on Jan. 17 after putting up 38 and 23 points in games over the weekend for the Lady ‘Cats. She was the youngest of the 2022 Prep Athletes of the Year.
Volleyball was the first varsity letter that she picked up during the 2021-22 school year, and Kassidy Johnson, the Lady Bearcats’ head volleyball coach, said they kind of “tossed her to the wolves” when they told her she would be the setter, but Johnson was willing to take the leap of faith with the freshman because of how coachable she is.
“Lauren is one of those girls that if you told her to run through a brick wall she’d do it,” said Johnson. “No matter if she knew how big the brick wall was like she would do it for you because she knew it would be what was best for the team.”
After the volleyball season ended, Olsen took very little time to make a name for herself across Wyoming on the basketball court. Opposing coaches and players shouted far and wide about how Douglas girls basketball had found its next star player.
“I’ve known Lauren since she was a first grader, and even then just, she had that spark in her eye that you talked about,” said Davidson. “I’ll never forget when Lauren was in first grade. We had a bet, she was even competitive then, with the Broncos and the Seahawks and whoever lost had to wear the other team’s jersey, so that’s her as a first grader getting it. Of course, the Seahawks beat the Broncos, and I had to wear the Seahawks stuff.”
That desire to compete has only grown stronger since Olsen first learned basic addition and subtraction in first grade. In her first season at the high school level, she authored a rewrite of the Douglas girls basketball record books.
The single-game scoring record and single-season scoring records were smashed courtesy of Olsen’s ability to put the ball in the hole. The 44 points she scored against Burns on Feb. 5 were the most by any female varsity high school basketball player in Wyoming this year. She also led all of Wyoming girls’ high school basketball in scoring average with 23.3 points per game, and she finished with 652 total points on the season. Her 3.8 steals per game were also tied for second at 3A.
“Her ability to put the ball in the hoop is just you know it’s special,” said Douglas head girls basketball coach Cody Helenbolt. “It’s better than any kid that I’ve ever probably coached. [It’s] better than any kid I’ve ever coached especially as a freshman.”
Her scoring outbursts throughout the season helped propel the Douglas girls basketball team to officially a fourth straight 3A state championship.
“She’s not even reached where she’s gonna be yet, and that’s what is cool to see, but the only reason that she’s there is because of how hard she works,” said Davidson, who could not say enough good things about Olsen. “She puts in that time.”
After securing a state championship, Olsen laced up her soccer cleats and took them to the field. In soccer, there is a point system where a goal equals two points, and an assist equals one point to calculate statistics. Olsen missed a few games due to basketball commitments, but she averaged 1.8 points per game, nearly a goal per game when she was out on the pitch for the Lady Bearcats.
“I think kids expect her to do something great when we needed it the most, and that’s valuable in sports,” said Justin Carr, Douglas’ head girls soccer coach. “You always need a person that you can look to help you when the game is on the line, and Lauren brings that to us.”
We were fortunate to have Olsen make the trek up to the studio in Casper for an interview last week. She sat down with David Graf to talk about the role her coaches have played in her life, where she developed her work ethic, her proudest moments from her freshman year and more.
The interview has been edited for content and clarity.
DG: Thanks for making the trip up here. You just heard from all your coaches. All the nice things that they had to say about you. They certainly had a lot to say about you. What kind of role have those coaches played in your life?
LO: Definitely a huge one. They’re all always there for me, and Kassidy is one that has always pushed me and gave me an opportunity that she didn’t necessarily have to give to me, and she saw my potential in that sport, which was pretty cool of her. Helenbolt has always pushed me past my limits and even further and even further. He’s always pushing me to work hard and that’s really nice to have a coach that just wants me to get better, and you can tell that within him. Davidson, he’s a great mentor. If I need to talk to him about something, I can go and talk to him about something, and it’s not weird for me for sure and I just think it’s funny because I’ve always talked to him about he’s just a volunteer coach, and that’s all he is to me, but he’s definitely a lot more than that. Coach Carr has given me an opportunity that he didn’t have to give to me, and he’s worked around a lot of my schedules knowing that I have a sport that I have to do even more to, and I’m committed to, and he really showed my strengths in soccer.
DG: One thing I want to clear up before we keep going, you told me earlier that that bet between you and Coach Davidson wasn’t just about jerseys. What else did you win?
LO: He owed me a pack of Oreos, too, so he got me those and I remember that.
DG: Oh, I love it. Well, you play volleyball, you play basketball, you play soccer, probably play some more sports that I don’t know about. What got you started in sports?
LO: My dad has coached me since the second grade in basketball and has been my coach until obviously my high school career, and I’ve always played like rec soccer, and I’ve always been into volleyball. Always in the backyard hitting a volleyball and so just definitely since I was young, I’ve always been playing these sports, and that was just how it got all started.
DG: One of the common themes of talking to your coaches is that ‘Lauren is competitive. Lauren works really, really hard. She’s incredibly coachable for how talented she is.’ Where does that work ethic come from for you?
LO: Definitely my dad and my parents they’ve always pushed me to be my best, and my dad was very hard on me and so that’s where I had to learn how to just be like ‘Ok, Coach.’ and just listen and take it in. Definitely do what they tell me without any questions asked, and I’ve learned that because my dad was hard on me, and my parents have always just pushed me super hard.
DG: You talked about your parents there. I know this past year you were able to play a lot of sports with your older sister, Alli. What was that like playing with her?
LO: It’s something that I’ll never forget for sure because we built our relationship really strong out of that. We got to play all three varsity sports together, and we click different. You could tell even on the court that we worked together differently. We always had like me setting to Alli as an outside in volleyball or me making a pass up the floor in basketball. Normally, it was vice versa with Alli making a pass up the floor to me. I remember a game at Newcastle, and I had an assist to Alli to get a goal to get us to go into overtime. It was just those little types of things that you could tell that we were sisters.
DG: You accomplished a lot as a freshman. More than most freshmen do on varsity. What are you most proud of from your freshman year?
LO: I would just say winning a state championship. I think that was cool, and I got to do it with a team that I would never replace for anything. That team meant a lot to me, and the coaches meant a lot to me, and I feel like everything was just perfect at that moment, and I’ll remember that forever for sure.
DG: I don’t know if we’ve mentioned it enough. You are a freshman. Your mom drove you here to the studio today, so you got three more years of high school. Three more years for people to come and watch you compete in all these sports in Douglas. So what are your goals going forward?
LO: I would say to just keep working hard and improving not only as an individual but improving all the teams that we play on and that I wanna have fun and stay healthy.
Congratulations to Lauren Olsen and her family. Shoutout to Lauren’s mom, Ericka, for driving her to the studio for the interview.
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