Olson honored at Gophers’ new stadium

Mark Heller

Donna Olson couldn’t say a dozen words before she started getting choked up.
“I knew I was going to do this,” she said while fighting back the tears.
There is no denying her contributions to women’s athletics at Minnesota.
Sunday afternoon was her turn to do the accepting. After all, she did give $900,000 of the $2.1 million needed to construct the soccer team’s new home.
It’s the third-largest single donation ever given to women’s athletics at the University of Minnesota.
The Gophers had already played three home games before Sunday’s entanglement with Northwestern, but since the stadium wasn’t completely finished the dedication was pushed back to Sunday.
Sound problems made University President Mark Yudof and Vice-President McKinley Boston sound like scratched records after a Run-DMC concert.
But you didn’t need a grand speech from the administration to know how much Olson has meant to women’s athletics.
“We’re very proud of this stadium, what Deborah has done, what the legislature has done and we’re proud of what (coaches, staff and players) do,” Yudof said.
Olson is the daughter of Elizabeth Lyle Robbie. Robbie became the first woman in the country to own a professional sports franchise when she bought the Miami Toros soccer team in the mid-70s. In 1983 the Toros moved to the Twin Cities and became the Strikers until they folded in 1988.
“If this facility is anything more than a great home to a great team, it should remind us that there are people who help shape us and (who are) mentors and friends. (We should) cherish those that are a force in our lives.”

Threes come in pairs
Nicole Lee hit a double trifecta last weekend. The senior forward got her third goal of the season on Sunday, the game-winner in a 1-0 win.
That goal gave her 101 career points, which means Lee is the third player in Minnesota history to reach the century mark.
Who knew? Not Lee.
“I didn’t know it until they announced it to me,” Lee said. “It’s kind of cool. I didn’t set out to attain a certain amount of points. I try to help the program as best I can and my job is to score so I should do that.”

Goalie grub
What is it with players who don’t know when they break school records?
Goalie Dana Larson broke one this weekend but, like Lee, she heard it through the grapevine.
Larson’s shutout on Sunday — her second of the weekend — was the 22nd of her career. The old record was 21.5 by Teresa O’Hearn from 1993-96.
“I just found out. It’s exciting, and I hope it stays around for a while,” Larson said.

Mark Heller covers soccer and welcomes comments at [email protected]