Coming from Hebron, KY. is shooting guard Olivia Crigler. She represents our women’s basketball team and feels extremely lucky to live in Napa Valley, where she can continue her passion for basketball while also- pursuing her love for photography. Being given the opportunity to have the best of both worlds has made Olivia’s experience at PUC so much more enjoyable.
What drew you to PUC athletics over another college?
PUC was a breath of fresh air. The environment, faculty, and student body were all welcoming and genuine. It was a huge move for me to come across the country. I had never been to the state of California other than my visit to PUC in high school. The campus felt like home, and I am extremely lucky to be able to say I live in Napa Valley. Also, since PUC is liberal arts, they have my major, photography. That can be hard to find at other schools. I felt wanted by the basketball program and coaching staff when I was recruited. This was extremely important for me because basketball has always been such a huge part of my life.
Walk us through a typical team practice.
Typically, we have a good warm-up routine that includes stretching, shooting, and some sort of full-court drills to warm us up. With the season coming up we have been focusing on learning our defense, plays, press, etc. Scrimmaging is also an important aspect in practice so we can simulate games like speed and situations. We also have daily weightlifting to further prep our bodies for games. In pre-season (before the start of school), we were focusing a lot on conditioning to get into shape and skill work. With the season starting this month it’s time to take all of that and put it together.
What are the core values of your team?
This year the women’s team has a lot of fresh faces from the coaching staff to the roster as well. A big focal point that is expressed every day is the importance of hard work. “Nothing is given”, our coach says. We want to be the hardest working team in the conference. Another large core value is the importance of being a “family”. We are with one another every day and to be a successful team we have to play and work together.
What is your favorite part about being part of your team?
College basketball was always my biggest goal growing up. My dad played and coached college and he always told me playing college basketball were some of his greatest memories in life. I am so grateful to be able and have the ability to play my sport. Being on the PUC basketball team I enjoyed my college experience so much more. Being a college athlete is a very different experience than a non-athlete. We are given opportunities to represent our school, travel, compete, and make lifelong friendships with our teammates.
How do you balance your time between school and sports?
I would say this is the hardest part about being a student-athlete. With Covid taking away our season last year, there was so much time to focus on schoolwork. Now with a regular season, we have to balance homework, class, labs, etc. with all our practices, conditioning, weightlifting, games, travel, etc. It can be a lot. I think the thing that works for me is planning my schedule every day and making sure I hold myself accountable every day. I compare my class schedule with practices and games and pick the time I need to complete all of my work. Also, eating healthy and maintaining a good sleep schedule is crucial for excelling in the classroom and on the court. Schoolwork and basketball are my priority here at PUC.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in being a student-athlete?
If you are interested in playing college, love your sport, and dedicate yourself. That is what will drive you to be successful. Being a student-athlete has its challenges, but I believe it prepares you extremely well for life after college. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work, but the payoff is worth it if you love what you are doing.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?
The best part about being a part of the Pioneers family is when the community supports us. With the addition of the Pioneer Posse, the athletes have been given chances to get involved with the student body and gain support for our season. Being a small school, support from the school at our games boosts us. PUC also gives the most support academically to athletes than I have seen anywhere else. They want to see the athletes succeed academically and athletically.
Do you have a favorite athlete? If so, who and why?
My favorite basketball players are Steph Curry and Larry Bird. As a three-point shooter, how could I not look up to Steph Curry? He has completely changed the game of shooting and inspires me to get better and push my shooting ability even further. My favorite pro basketball team is the Celtics. My dad is a fan, so I grew up watching their games. Larry Bird is a legend from the program and one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
What are other things you are passionate about?
My biggest hobbies outside of basketball are photography and different mediums of art. I have pages to post my photography work and also different art projects I do in my free time. PUC has actually given me a lot of different opportunities for both. I have been taking senior photos of PUC students, local families, and couples in the Napa Valley, and I photograph for a clothing business in downtown Napa. After college I would love to play overseas basketball for a few years, afterward being a travel writer and photographer or a sports photographer would be the ultimate dream.