Douglas High grad Keith Olson set to make debut for Wolf Pack
For the Nevada Appeal
The entire communities of Minden and Gardnerville just might move about 50 miles north Saturday night.
“I think all of Gardnerville will be there,” said Nevada men’s basketball sophomore Keith Olson of his Wolf Pack debut Saturday night (7:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center against the Wagner Seahawks. “Everybody I’ve talked to down there says they want to come up and see me.”
Olson, a 2007 graduate of Douglas High, has not played a game because of injuries since his senior year in high school in the Northern 4A Regional title game in February 2007.
“I was talking to someone the other day and they said, ‘Hey, Olson, is all of Gardnerville going to be there to see you play? ‘” Olson said. “I just said, ‘Get ready for the Black and Orange.'”
Although he will be wearing Wolf Pack Silver and Blue instead of Douglas High Black and Orange, Olson’s friends and family will have no problem recognizing him. It’s been a few seasons, after all, since the Wolf Pack has had a player with Olson’s bulk at 6-foot-9, 260-pounds.
“I look at him as a Chad Bell type of player,” Pack coach David Carter said. “He’s a guy who will get in there and rebound and play defense and do all the little things you need to win.”
Olson is the heaviest Wolf Pack player since Bell completed his senior year in March 2006.
“We can use a guy with his girth, size and strength,” Carter said. “Having someone with the ability to guard the low post will be huge for us.”
Olson, who had to sit out the first semester this season because of NCAA rules after leaving Northern Arizona last fall, is just happy to be able to put on a uniform again.
“I’ve put in a lot of work and waited a long time for this moment,” said Olson, a four-year starter at Douglas High. “I’m sure I will have some butterflies and be a little nervous. But, hopefully, all that will go away once I step onto the court.”
Although he has practiced with the Wolf Pack all season, and has sat on the bench at all home games, Olson knows that the moment when he enters the game against Wagner and hears his name booming throughout Lawlor Events Center will be something he never forgets.
“I’ve worked so hard for this,” he said. “There were times when I didn’t know if I’d ever play again. I’ve just been so blessed. Growing up in Nevada I always wanted to play here. As long as I wear this uniform there will not be one single day that I take for granted. You never know when your career might end. I’m so blessed and fortunate to be able to play with this team.”
Olson, who said he originally broke his foot midway through his senior year at Douglas and continued to play, never did step onto the court at Northern Arizona.
“The pain just never would go away so last year I just decided I needed to go back home and rest the foot and get healthy,” Olson said. “There were days when the pain was so bad I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I had gotten to the point where I was thinking, ‘How much Advil do I need to take just to get through this pain.'”
Olson returned home to northern Nevada last fall, enrolled at Nevada and started his road to recovery. The decision last March to remove the two screws that were inserted into his foot during surgery the year before was the best decision he ever made.
“A couple days after I got the screws out, I noticed a huge difference,” he said. “From that point I just kept getting better and better.”
The pain, he says, is gone.
“It’s amazing how it feels,” Olson said. “Now that the pain is gone, it just makes my life so much more enjoyable.”
The foot, he insists, feels as strong and healthy since before he injured it his senior year nearly three years ago. “I’ve practiced everyday, haven’t missed a minute of anything,” Olson said.
Carter, who said Olson will definitely make his debut Saturday, is going to take it slow with his new center.
“We have to be cautious,” Carter said. “Practicing is one thing. But playing in a game is totally different. He’s going to be putting that foot under a lot more stress and pounding and we just have to see how it reacts.”
A basketball career will be reborn Saturday night.
“Whenever I call my friends and family lately I’ve tried not to talk about (Saturday night),” smiled Olson. “But the conversation always gets back to it. Everybody is so excited. I think everybody I know is more excited than I am.”