Women’s Athletics continue to grow in popularity

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has always had a strong women’s basketball program, and Head Coach Kathy Olivier for the UNLV Lady Rebels basketball team is excited about the current season. “We have nine players returning, and I know it will be a strong team this year. It will be a big year for women’s athletics. The UNLV Lady Rebels are one of the focus points of athletics at the university. It is important we represent well, give 100 percent and work hard on and off the court, in the classroom and in the community.”

This can be considered a definitive year for women’s sports. First, in an NBA Summer League game played on the campus of UNLV, Becky Hammon was the first female NBA Summer League coach as she led the Spurs against the Knicks and won the championship. There was also the triumph of the Women’s World Cup in soccer.

Women who play sports can become great role models and demonstrate how to fight through adversity.

“I really enjoy working with this team,” Olivier said. “They are a fun group, they work extremely hard, and the players are very focused.” The teams practiced and did some workouts over the summer months. “This team is a huge positive for the program, and I think we have some good leaders this year. We have two seniors, one junior and several sophomore students who have played on the court and are a standout in leadership. They show enthusiasm and passion for the game.”

According to Olivier, it is important for women to play sports. Skills are acquired that can help foster success in a career and other areas of life. Playing sports can teach women how to be responsible and strong. Women who play sports can become great role models and demonstrate how to fight through adversity. There is diversity on a team, and it is important for women to learn how to work with different people from different cultures. “It is such a positive experience to play college sports because what you learn can be applied to real life,” Olivier explained.

Olivier was grateful for the opportunity to work with her team over the summer months. “This year, we had such a positive experience with our camp. Campers are from the community. We are mentoring young girls, and our team took a lot of pride representing the UNLV Lady Rebels. Grandparents or parents brought their granddaughters and daughters to camp, and to work with them is so rewarding,” she said.

Sports are also one way to achieve and maintain good health. “You need to be healthy to be successful in business, be a good friend and great family member.” In fact, Olivier passed on her athletic traits to her daughter whom she coached on the University of California, Los Angeles squad.

Earlier this year, UNLV placed a program-best eight members of the women’s basketball team on the 2015 Spring Academic All-Mountain West team, while two were also named MW Scholar-Athletes. Alana Cesarz was named Academic All-MW for the fourth straight season, while junior Amie Callaway was a third-time honoree. Repeat honorees were sophomore Diamond Major and graduate student Aley Rohde. Three members of the freshmen class were also recognized: Alyssa Anderson, Simone Sheppard and Nikki Wheatley. Anderson and Rohde also received the additional honor of MW Scholar-Athlete, the first for both Lady Rebels.

For more information and a schedule of games, visit unlvrebels.com/sports.

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