Olson Set to Train with USA National Team

Ever since Erin Olson stepped on the court for the Knights in 2017, her journey has been nothing short of impactful, and now, in 2020, Olson has the opportunity to continue her journey within the game.
The Cary, Illinois native started seeing action at UCF as a sophomore after spending her freshman season at Bradley University. Olson wasted no time helping out as she led the Knights in assists with 734 her first season. The following year also saw Olson at the top of the assist column, but her 2018 campaign was unfortunately cut short due to a non-volleyball related injury.
UCF went on to win the American Athletic Conference Championship title that season and advance to the NCAA Tournament, in which the injured Olson did not play. UCF lost in the first round, falling just short in a 3-2 contest with FGCU.
Throughout the trials and tribulations, Olson was determined to come back stronger than ever for her senior season. The senior setter roared back as she led the Knights in assists for her third consecutive year, in route to a 25-win season and another conference championship. History would not be repeated this go-around, as UCF toppled FSU, advancing them to the second round of the NCAA tournament for just the third time in program history.
Today, Olson seeks to continue to pursue her dream of staying within the game.
In January of 2020, Olson was offered and accepted a position with the USA National Team to help them train for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The team will travel and participate in various international volleyball matches, representing our Red, White, and Blue as members of the United States.
"Todd [Dagenais] told me about this when I was getting on a flight back home and was like 'Hey there might be an opportunity for you to train with the national team, is it something you'd be interested in?' and I was like…'yes…yes it would be' because I didn't know how else to answer that," said Olson. "Then I got a call from coach [Karch Kiraly] a couple days later and he said 'we'd love to have you. Is this something you want to do?' and I said of course. I know it's an opportunity of a lifetime, so I'm looking forward to it."
Olson and the team will spend the majority of their time in Anaheim, California as Olson travels out on February 1st to join the squad.
"From what I've been told, it's going to be a lot of training with the girls who are coming back from overseas and rehabbing with some players who were out the past year," said Olson about her opportunity.
Practice will be held early morning, five days a week, ending in the early afternoon. Four of the five practice days will start off with lifting before the squad breaks down into a regular practice routine. Practices will not be held on the weekends, giving the members of the team some time to rest before another week of training.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for one of our players to be invited to bypass the trial process and earn a spot in the USA National Team gym," said UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais. "Erin already understands the speed and the tempo of the USA National Team because she has run that speed for at least two years with UCF."
Dagenais coached Olson for three years during her time here with the Knights.
"She's going to have a very important role in preparing other players in their skill development and rehabilitation process. She'll also have an opportunity to potentially secure positions within USA travel teams and earn professional opportunities after she does well with some of the best players in the world," continued Dagenais. "Not only does she have the skills to play and compete, she has the mentality and attitude that is necessary to be in one of the most intense gyms in the world. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for her."
"Honestly, it's been supper surreal so far, I don't think it's truly hit me yet," said Olson. "As soon as I get to California, it will finally sink in more. I am looking forward to the challenge. I love learning about volleyball and seeing how many different ways it's played, and also making the jump up and playing with girls that are way older than me. It's even more exciting than going into college as a freshman."
Although Olson is will be starting a new chapter in her career, she is ecstatic about what the future holds. She is excited to adapt and expand upon her skillset during her time in California.
"The speed of the game picks up again, and the strategy too." Olson continued. You have to be more strategic about your decisions, and I can't wait to pick up stuff from all of the players and coaches there."
Overall, the Women's National Team has accumulated 15 total gold medals in their efforts competing in tournaments over the years. The team took home gold medals twice within the past two years during the 2018 and 2019 Nations Cup. Additionally, Head Coach Karch Kiraly has four gold medals to his resume. Heading into the 2020 campaign, Team USA is ranked second overall in the FIVB Rankings.
"I'm so excited for this opportunity," said Olson. "I can't wait to learn and play with them. These were the girls grew up and thought how amazing they all were, and now I get to be in the gym with them."