Astrid Olsen’s journey from Norway to the UW
Astrid Olsen’s collegiate journey has been anything but easy.
Her first challenge came when she was recruited by Pepperdine University to play tennis. The move from Norway to the United States came with intense culture shock, language differences and a much hotter climate.
“When I migrated, there was a big difference in lifestyle. Back in Norway we value resting and relaxing, but here everything’s always moving!” she shares. “I had challenges with language too. I learned that in the US, you should be a lot more mindful of communicating effectively and showing respect for authority.”
Soon after she arrived in 2019, COVID-19 did too, shutting down life and sport as she knew it. Astrid also battled an illness that limited her time on the court for her first two tournament seasons.
Despite all these changes and setbacks, she learned to trust the process and face these challenges with a positive attitude.
“It was frustrating not being able to show my abilities,” Astrid shares. “I felt like I had more to give and learn.”
With the support of her Pepperdine coaches, Astrid decided to transfer to the University of Washington, where she received a full scholarship. “I wouldn’t be here studying and playing for the UW if it wasn’t for our donors. It’s a blessing that has changed my life in so many ways.”
Despite still being unable to play after her transfer due to her illness, Astrid remained devoted to the sport by focusing on recovery and supporting the team in other ways.
Robin Stephenson, Husky Women’s Tennis Head Coach, praised her remarkable contributions. “Astrid leads by example and always puts the team before herself. She knows what she wants and how she will get there.”
It looked like her dedication would pay off in her sophomore year when she finally returned to the court for preseason play. However, Astrid’s plans took another unexpected turn when she discovered a fracture in her foot. The recovery process took longer than expected, causing yet another season to flow by.
Many players would have called it quits, but not Astrid. Fully recovering from her illness, Astrid launched an impressive comeback in her junior season, securing victories in three consecutive matches against top-25 teams. Her contribution played a pivotal role in elevating the team to the Top-15 in Nationals. As a result, the Husky Women’s Tennis team made it to the NCAA tournament, with Astrid ranking 77th nationally in singles.
With all her individual and team contributions and achievements, she earned the title of Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week and All-Pac-12 Second Team. She also won the prestigious ITA Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship for exhibiting outstanding athletic and academic performance. Additionally, she was one of 17 student-athletes selected to represent Washington at the Black Student-Athlete Summit last spring.
“I think that’s what happens when you do something you love and believe in,” she shares. “I’ve had great wins, but I think I’m most proud of staying on the same path and goal. I just trusted that my time would come.”
Now, with her vision set on going pro after college, Astrid continues to bet on herself, ready to rally against any future changes or challenges.