Copiague’s Carole Olsen has a unique perspective on the 300th career win of her girls basketball coaching career.
The longtime Eagles coach said she reached the mark after Saturday’s 73-39 win against Bellport in the Claude Bayer Tournament at Amityville. Keyanah Jackson had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Lanyah Ford added 15 points to lead Copiague (12-4).
While Olsen appreciates the magnitude of the milestone, she’d much rather talk about this season’s team, or her former players who have gone on to become successful and productive adults.
“Winning is nice. Everyone likes to win,” Olsen said. “But 300 wins is more of a confirmation of trying to do all these things the right way over the years and it paying off.”
The 19th-year Copiague coach has been a teacher for 35 years, including the last 33 at Copiague in health and science. (Olson said she spent her first two years teaching at Wantagh under Fran Nocella.)
Olsen has impacted the lives of numerous students and players in Copiague during her tenure. Former players like Kia Wright, Angie Clark, Ieasia Walker, and Gabrielle Gibson, among others, helped Olsen and the Eagles to Suffolk and Long Island championships in 2002, 2003 and 2009, and state titles in 2003 and 2009.
“The first thing about Carole is that she cares about the kids 100 percent,” said Gibson, now Olsen’s varsity assistant. (Coincidentally, Wright — who was inducted into the St. John’s Hall of Fame in 2015 — is now Copiague’s JV coach.)
“Whatever she can do, she will, whether it’s extra time in the gym, or bringing bagels or pizza; she spoils these kids and she even spoiled us,” Gibson added. “Honestly, she’s a wonderful person and the reason I’m coaching today.”
Seeing players positively transition out of high school is what Olsen enjoys most about coaching.
“I’m glad I’ve coached these kids to enjoy their success not just in basketball, but in what they do with their lives,” Olsen said. “What they learn to become successful on the court transfers into their lives, their careers and their families. That, to me, is the best part.”