10 Questions with Olivia Gardner
Olivia has been with Southern Minnesota Select for two years and she was recently named Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Ms. Soccer Minnesota for Class A. It is the highest award a high school student can receive in the State of Minnesota.
You recently won Ms. Soccer Minnesota for Class A, describe what you felt when the announced your name at the banquet.
When my name was announced for the Ms.Soccer award, I was completely shocked. All of the candidates were highly deserving, so I really had no idea who they would choose. I know this was an individual award but I could not have done it without the help of my high school team, coaches, parents, and club.
You’re getting ready to play college soccer. Where will you be playing and how did you choose that school?
I will be continuing my soccer career at the University of Mary next year. When I was in the midst of being recruited and touring schools, University of Mary contacted me a little later than my other schools so I wasn’t sure if I would consider it. Thankfully, after some more talking, I drove to Bismarck to visit and I fell in love instantly. The coaches went out of their way to welcome me and the soccer team was so excited to meet me, I knew from then I was going to be a future Marauder.
What aspect of training or coaching has helped you improve as an individual player?
One v one competition has been the most beneficial training practice that has improved me as a player. One v one has allowed me to try new moves and push myself to be okay with failing, allowing me to grow in my skill.
What aspect of training or coaching has helped you improve as a team player?
In my high school season, my coach, Marie Barrientos, allowed us to play Rondo after warmups during practice. This became a bonding experience for my teammates and I, and was a great opportunity to grow closer with some of my other teammates. We got to become competitive in a healthy way, which has translated well into my game play.
How did you become interested in soccer?
My parents entered me into the local YMCA soccer club when I was five years old. I had never played soccer nor heard about it, but I was willing to give it a shot. Instantly, I fell in love. Scoring was my favorite part of the game, so naturally I became a forward and the rest is history.
Who is the sports icon that has influenced you the most?
Alex Morgan has always been my biggest inspiration from her strength up top to her quick speed. About 8 years ago I got to meet her at a Portland Thorns game and I convinced myself that I too was going to become a Thorns player someday. She has such determination that it inspires me to push myself even further than I thought I was capable of.
How do your teammates make practice fun?
Our team is extremely close, so at practice we are always able to mix groups and get along with everyone. We joke around before practice and during water breaks, and are able to make any situation positive. No one ever dreads practice, and we’re always looking forward to spending time together.
What is your favorite song to listen to prior to a game?
I love listening to Hot by Young Thug before games to get me hype.
What one word describes you?
What is your favorite food to eat the night before a big competition?
Apples with almond butter are my favorite night snack before a big game.
What do you do to calm your butterflies before you compete?
Normally I don’t get too nervous before games, but when I do I catch myself making jokes and talking to my teammates as a distraction before the game begins. Once the whistle blows, all nerves go away and I’m fully immersed in the game.