The success of UNO’s Kelsie Olson on and off the court makes her a perfect example of a true student-athlete.
The senior tennis captain has been a contributor on the University of Nebraska at Omaha team in all four years of her career, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
“You have to remember you are a student first when you get to college,” Olson said. “If you have to take a day off of practice to catch up on studies the coach is usually understanding.”
Olson attributes a lot of her success to her time management and organizational skills. It is important to her to stay organized so she won’t forget about an assignment or exam.
Playing tennis has had advantages and disadvantages for Olson as she tries to keep up with her classes.
Olson says: “It makes me stay on top of all my stuff and get everything done early when I have to leave for a long trip.
“Missing class is the hardest thing. It’s hard not being in the physical environment for class to hear lecture.”
Olson isn’t the only tennis player experiencing success in the classroom. The women’s tennis team has the second highest team GPA for all UNO sports.
“In the fall, we talked about having a team GPA above 3.60,” Olson said, “And we did that last semester.
“Having a smaller team is different because one bad GPA can pull down the team GPA. So we had to all be committed.”
Coach Mike Saniuk is well aware of Olson’s success in the classroom.
“Off the court, she’s a smart cookie,” he said. “She tries to be perfect in all that she does and is very involved.”
Saniuk admires her academic success but loves her tennis ability, too. The first impression the first-year coach had of Olson was that, on the tennis court, she was a “feisty, fiery redhead from Grand Island.”
“She will do whatever it takes — minus cheating — to win a match,” Saniuk said. “Kelsie’s fight and drive on the court is a step above everyone’s. She puts up a tremendous effort.”
Olson, the Mavericks’ No. 2 singles player, first started playing tennis her freshman year of high school, though she didn’t expect to be college athlete at the time.
Olson worked hard on her game, and she prides herself on giving it her all.
“I’m very competitive and passionate, which goes a long way,” Olson said. “Wanting to win for the team helps me get the next ball and not miss the next shot.”
Along with classes and tennis, Olson is also involved in multiple organizations. She is in Maverick PRSSA, a public relations group; Alpha Xi Delta, a woman’s fraternity; and Order of Omega, a Greek honor society.
She was also the first UNO recipient of the National Golden Key Award, which is the highest honor a PRSSA member can receive.
Olson is driven to take advantage of the shots she gets.
“I have a lot of opportunities — I’m going to school, playing tennis — it’s not something I want to waste.”