Nov. 7, 2013
By Ben Brockman ’16
When Andie Olsen, senior middle blocker for the University of Notre Dame volleyball team, started playing volleyball in third grade, she became immediately hooked, even though her father may have had other plans for her.
“My dad was so disappointed because he was the basketball coach, but I really liked volleyball and I kept with it,” says Olsen.
Olsen certainly started young, and her early participation in the sport helped to encourage and foster her enjoyment for the game.
“I started club [volleyball] really early,” says Olsen. “I just stuck with it. It has always been one of my favorite things to do.”
Olsen’s success in high school led to her recruitment by many schools, but she says that it only took one trip to Notre Dame for her to make up her mind.
“I just fell in love with it. I walked on campus and immediately said `I can see myself here. This is where I want to go.’ After that there was nowhere else. I was not interested in anywhere [but Notre Dame].”
As a four-year player, the Oakland, Calif., native has become a crucial asset for the team during her final two seasons. Last year, Olsen led the team in blocks, racking up 96 on the year. This season, she is third on the team in blocks (58) and fifth in kills (139). Over her career, Olsen has totaled 361 kills and 198 total blocks to account for 472.5 points.
While volleyball is an important part of Olsen’s life, there is much more to her than what appears on game day. Head coach Debbie Brown says that what makes her truly unique can be seen in all aspects of her life.
“I think that when Andie is at her best she is really lively and energetic,” says Brown. “Both on and off the court she is very engaging.”
The veteran head coach says that passion is one thing that Olsen incorporates into her everyday life.
“It’s exciting when you see someone who is really passionate about something,” Brown says. “It just makes you appreciate her passion for what she is doing.”
Olsen tries to transition this passion for life and volleyball to intensity on the court.
“I try to bring a lot of intensity on the court. I try to get really fired up and get everybody around me really fired up.”
Olsen says that aside from blocks and kills, intensity is probably the most important thing that she can bring to the gym every day.
“Bringing intensity is one of the most important intangibles of being ready for a match. Jeni Houser and I are really sparkplugs for the intensity, and if one of us isn’t intense I feel as if it brings the entire team down. We need to stay fired up.”
This passion and intensity can also be seen in Olsen’s studies throughout her four years at Notre Dame. As an anthropology major, Olsen has been able to explore her interests and become invested in something that she truly enjoys.
“Studying [anthropology] and learning more about the broadness of the subject, [there are] so many people and so many fascinating things about differences in culture. It is just so interesting to me,” says Olsen. “I stuck with it, and I really like it.”
Olsen’s studies have only been complemented by the many travels she has been able to experience through volleyball. On a 10-day trip to Europe this summer with the team to practice and play against new competition, Olsen was truly able to live out her passion for different cultures and ideas and experience her studies first hand.
“Being the anthropologist, I like to experience culture and see different people. Seeing the cities and just feeling the age I think was probably the coolest thing for me. It was just such an incredible experience to have.”
When not exploring foreign countries and studying new cultures, Olsen enjoys music.
“I`m not great, but I play a little bit of guitar. I just love to jam out, sing at the top of my lungs and play my guitar,” Olsen says.
Olsen also enjoys more relaxing past-times in her free time, citing cooking and baking as things she has really grown to love while spending this year in an off-campus house.
It’s clear that Olsen is one of a kind, and this individuality has stood out to her head coach.
“Andie is not one to follow the crowd…She is her own person,” says Brown. “That is a very admirable quality that she has. She is strong in herself.”
Wherever she ends up, Olsen will surely bring this individuality and her passion and intensity for life with her.