Olivia Wake will represent the US in volleyball in the 2014 United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria.
West Seattle superstar to represent US at United World Games
By Gwen Davis
Did you know there is a United World Games for athletic youth? And that this year West Seattle’s own 17-year-old Olivia Wake will represent the city and nation?
On June 15, Olivia, senior at Seattle Lutheran High School, will compete in volleyball in the 2014 United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria.
She was cherry-picked by recruiters from the American International Sports Teams (AIST) to be on the U19 volleyball team. Female players from across the country were selected, including two others from Washington State. Around 13 female athletes were chosen.
The United World Games includes youth from 30 countries, for a range of sports. Players are bracketed according to their age. Olivia will participate in the bracket for 19-year-olds – the top of the age range.
“She got an invitation and it was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up,” said Mark Wake, her dad.
Olivia is pumped.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’ve never been to Europe or anything before. It will be fun to meet all the girls from other states, and get to know them and play with them.”
“We are also going to be visiting Italy and Germany, and I’m excited to see those places, as well,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to actually playing against other countries.”
Olivia started playing volleyball in 7th grade. She started basketball and track in 5th grade. She has played volleyball, basketball and track for all four years at Seattle Lutheran (classified as 2B).
“A lot of the credit goes to my coaches,” she said. “I have really good coaches. Every one of them is really supportive and wants to make me better. Throughout all the sports [at Seattle I’ve been really lucky.”
Olivia has had the same coaches since her freshman year.
But to what does Olivia attribute her athletic success?
“I think a combination of being athletic and liking sports and having a good time,” she said.
Olivia practices five to six days a week after school for two hours.
Olivia has also skated for two different junior roller derby teams, the Seattle Derby Brats (from 2007-’10) and the I-5 Rollergirls (2010-’14). She’s skated ever since she was nine.
On top of school
But despite her heavy sports involvement, Olivia still maintains around a 3.5 GPA.
“I really like my life skills class,” she said. “But probably English is my favorite subject.”
Olivia said that next year she plans to attend university in Arizona.
“But right now I’m not planning on playing sports for the school,” she said. “Just intermural teams.”
Mark is an assistant track coach at Seattle Lutheran. He also served on the board of directors on both of Olivia’s roller derby teams. He is currently vice president of the I-5 Rollergirls.
“She has the athleticism,” Mark said. “I did sports growing up, but I never pushed her. She decided she wanted to do sports, and she’s had fun doing it.”
Olivia’s track coach, Cynthia Lysen is proud of her student.
“I coached Olivia for four years,” Lysen said. “She’s the ultimate team player, putting the team before herself. She’s always been willing to do that.”
Lysen said this global opportunity is fitting for Olivia.
“She will be a great ambassador, not only for the game but for our country,” she said. “It’s especially good publicity given what the world thinks of American right now,” she added. “I think sending kids over there to have fun and represent the country via sports is a wonderful way to go.”
“There are vocal leaders and then there are leaders who lead by example,” she said. “Olivia is someone who leads by example. She sets expectations and the other teammates see that. It’s as important as having a vocal leader who keeps people in line by yells and screams.”
Olivia has been a joy to coach.
“Here you have a person who comes with a head down, get to work, do the job but also understands why you’re here. You can have fun and also be focused.”
Lysen will miss Olivia.
“Olivia is the last generation of athletes I’ve had for nine years. I’ll miss her a lot. I have stories, and they are all fun stories. I’m going to miss her leadership, miss her talent, miss her as a person. She’s a wonderful, wonderful human being.”
Olivia recently went to the state championships in track, taking first place in one of the competitions.
But while having the opportunity to participate in the United World Games is an honor, the tuition is steep. The program reportedly costs more than a couple thousand dollars.