MHS graduate tours Brazil with USA D-3 Women's Basketball team

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

This week, Montevideo High School class of 2017 graduate Abby Olson boarded a plane to head for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Brazil as a part of the USA D-3 Women’s Basketball Team. Olson, who played basketball throughout high school is currently a student at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato. She received an email last April inviting her to be a part of this tour. “When I found out I felt super excited,” she says. “I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and couldn’t say no. Plus, I get to do it with one of my best friends so it was just so exciting to be asked to be a part of it.”

Olson has always been interested in basketball. She says, “What interested me most was all the ways I can keep getting better, and all the relationships and friendships I have made throughout the years of playing is what keeps me playing today.”

This trip consists of teams made up of invited NCAA Division Three basketball players from across the United States that have been recognized at the national, regional, and conference levels. The players come from eight different states and thirteen different colleges and universities. To qualify they must be high achievers both on the court and in the classroom. 

Those players began their Brazil Tour 2021 on July 12th in Orlando, Florida with a team orientation. From there, they departed for Sao Paulo, Brazil where they then traveled to Jundiai, Sao Paulo on July 13th for a day of practice. On July 14th, both the men’s and women’s teams traveled to the city of Sorocaba - the 8th largest city in the state of Sao Paulo - for a doubleheader. On Thursday, the teams travel to Rio de Janeiro for an additional six days of the tour. On Friday, July 16th, Olson and her team will play Mangueira in Rio de Janeiro, and on Sunday, the 18th will play against Flumenense Clube. The team departs Brazil on July 20th, returning to the United States on the 21st. 

Olson says there has been a lot of hard work in preparation for the trip. “Hours in the gym every day, getting in shape and ready for the competition. I have spent a lot of time in the gym these past few months lifting, running, and shooting. I am super excited to finally experience this trip,” she says.

Olson will also have time while in Brazil to experience educational, cultural, and social aspects of Brazilian life through city, school, and sports club visits. The team will conduct a youth clinic for members of the Basquete Cruzada program which is a social enhancement program recognized and supported by the NBA. In Rio, the team will be staying on the famous Copacabana Beach and touring the Christ the Redeemer Statue, as well as a visit to Sugar Loaf Mountain - both of which are the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Throughout their time there, they will also visit Ipanema Beach and other famous sites. “I’m most looking forward to learning more about this culture and seeing the different talent we are going to be facing while playing there,” says Olson.