Women’s basketball player wouldn’t change a thing

It’s a simple question. If you gave senior Erin Olson a magic wand that had the power to rewrite basketball history, would she change anything?
Considering the struggles her women’s basketball team ran into during the co-captain’s three seasons at Minnesota, several gestures would seem appropriate. She could go back and arm her squads with an amazing new drug that places a special force field around each player, making it impossible for them to incur so much as a paper cut.
Or perhaps she could snap her fingers, making every turnover Minnesota committed in the last three years become an assist. That would have Big Ten statisticians scratching their heads to the point of baldness, but it would do wonders for the team’s record.
Which brings us to the most obvious potential magic trick — wouldn’t it be nice if Olson could wave the wand, flip-flopping the team’s mark during her stay to an impressive 60-21? This is, after all, the same player coach Cheryl Littlejohn calls Superwoman.
So, what’s it going to be, Olson?
“Ah, I don’t know that I’d change anything,” Olson said.
Come again?
“I’ve had a tremendous experience here. We’ve improved as a team, it maybe doesn’t show in the win-loss column, but I don’t want to give up the lessons I’ve learned here. They may not have felt good at the time, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Olson is a former walk-on who came to Minnesota in 1997 looking for a chance to prove she could play in the Big Ten. A transfer from Wyoming, she worked at McDonald’s before former Gophers head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald helped her give basketball another shot.
“Wisconsin called and said they weren’t interested anymore,” Olson said. “(Hill-MacDonald) gave me an opportunity to come in and play.”
In three short years Olson became a star player for Minnesota. She’s helped bring along several young guards, including sophomore Cassie Vander Heyden and freshman Lindsay Lieser, who have developed into two of the conference’s best outside shooters this season.
Albeit slowly, the Gophers have improved during Olson’s three years, winning three more regular season games in the past two years. This is the first season since 1994-95 that Minnesota has hit double digits in victories.
Olson has also completed her degree in kinesiology and is on her way to a master’s degree in sports psychology. Now that her Gophers career is winding down, Olson has expressed an interest in becoming a coach or a minister.
Olson put on a show in her Sports Pavilion farewell Sunday against Michigan State. She scored seven-straight Gophers points late in the second half, helping Minnesota climb back into the game and eventually pull out an overtime win. After the game, Vander Heyden, while pleased with the efforts of her senior co-captain, put the season into perspective.
“I’m not satisfied,” she said. “We’re what, 3-13 (Big Ten), I don’t think you can be.”
Vander Heyden and the rest of the Gophers will need Olson’s experience Thursday when they take on Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Olson is one of few Gophers with substantial experience in the conference tournament. And while the Badgers have already beaten Minnesota twice this season, she is confident that the Gophers can extend her retirement another game.
A reporter asked Littlejohn if Minnesota could beat Wisconsin on Thursday.
“Yes we can,” Olson interjected.
Yep, coaching might not be that far off for her.