Linfield alumnus steps up to coaching and playing overseas

Traveling overseas, one Linfield alumnus has pushed his way into professional basketball.

After working hard at  Linfield, Erik Olson, class of ‘09, ventured to Scotland, where he began his professional career.

After transferring to Linfield as a junior, the physical education major began to play for the Wildcats.

“[Olson] had a strong work ethic during his playing days at Linfield,” Linfield basketball coach Larry Doty said. “He was a very good shooter when he transferred here as a junior and then worked hard in the off-season to transform himself from a 3-point shooter to a player who could get to the rim, the foul line and rebound.”

After college, Olson’s journey to the professional league had a rocky beginning before he was offered an opportunity in Falkirk, Scotland.

After playing in Scotland, Olson had an off-season, where he attended try-outs and training camps before being signed to play in Australia.

“I am now entering my third season of professional basketball, and I also serve as head coach of both the top club team, Wagga Wagga Heat, and the under-18 development team,” Olson said.

In starting his coaching career, Olson hopes to have a long career of coaching.

“I do not have the interest to move about forever and I will hopefully be able to get into college athletics,” Olson said. “I would like to coach at a liberal arts college or overseas at the professional level where I would love to get involved in countries like Norway, Sweden and Iceland, which all have great basketball leagues and friendly cultures.”

Olson’s growing interest in basketball stemmed from his early exposure to the sport.

His father’s college-level coaching career of more than 20 years, most recently at Dartmouth College, has greatly influenced Olson’s desire to coach.

“Being raised in a coach’s household, I was truly around the game from the time I can remember,” Olson said. “Being around practices, players and coaches from the time I can remember has helped me succeed as a player and a coach as I have witnessed so many different situations and how they were handled.”

Olson’s dedication to the game is purely based on his love for the sport.

“[My motivation] simply the fact that I can continue to play the game I love at a high level,” Olson said. “I am hopeful to continue to have these experiences and playing contacts, and that requires a lot of hard work and preparation. It is easy to find motivation when you are playing the sport you love and have always had as a constant in your life.”

While Olson’s love for the game is evident to those all around, it is clear that his future will continue to have basketball in it.

“Erik loved basketball. He loved being in the gym [and he] loved spending hours working on his game. By the time he left Linfield, he was one of the best percentage shooters in the conference from the field and the foul line,” Doty said. “He made great strides in his game from being pretty much just a 3-point shooter to someone who could get to the rim, put the ball on the floor and score the medium range jumper and both those things put got him to the foul line where he was one of the top free throw shooters in the NWC.”

In coming so far from his college basketball career, Olson has not forgotten all the hard work that has led him to where he is now.

“Linfield played such a large role in my development that without my time there, I am confident I would not be playing internationally,” Olson said.

Kaylyn Peterson/
Sports editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at

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