Mackenzie Olver is kissed by parents Barry and Stacy after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Mackenzie Olver is kissed by parents Barry and Stacy after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Olver signs to play college soccer

Falcons defender will combine soccer skills and sociology studies

Thunder Mountain High School girls soccer midfielder Mackenzie Olver signed a national letter of intent on Thursday in the TMHS commons to play soccer at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

“Mackenzie reached out to us last season, and we were able to watch her play a couple times in Seattle and Portland,” Lewis & Clark head coach Jim Tursi said. “We were impressed with what we saw and the potential in her. We are excited to add her to our program and watch her continue to grow and excel throughout her time at LC. Olver will be joining our winger position as she can use her height and speed to her advantage. We are counting down the days until Fall Camp starts!”

The Lewis & Clark College Pioneers play in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.

Mackenzie Olver, with parents Barry and Stacy Olver, after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Mackenzie Olver, with parents Barry and Stacy Olver, after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Olver said she was looking for schools on the West Coast, especially the Oregon area, that had good sociology programs as she looks to become a social worker with an interest in therapy.

“It has been something that has been helpful in my own mental health,” she said. “I really believe that being able to give back to the community in that same way that it has helped me would mean a lot. So social work or something in that vane is a career path that might work out for me.”

She and her father, Barry, toured the Lewis & Clark campus.

“That is what really sold me,” Mackenzie Olver said. “It is beautiful there, right on a state park, sunlight streaming through the trees, the whole bit. I think just the beauty of the campus and their academic programs really spoke to me.”

Olver wasn’t ready to give up the soccer bug either.

“It just means a lot to me,” she said. “I just wasn’t ready to give it up yet. It just sort of hit last year, my junior year, that I wasn’t ready to let the sport go. I am really thankful I had the opportunity to play with the Alaska Development Program. Being able to play with that team helped me get out there and meet with coaches and find a way to continue.”

Mackenzie Olver, with parents Barry and Stacy Olver looking on, signs a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Mackenzie Olver, with parents Barry and Stacy Olver looking on, signs a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé soccer coach Matt Dusenberry is the former head of the ADP and a member coach. He recommend Olver to the organization.

“Her energy has always been there,” Dusenberry said. “She gives forth her best effort at all times. But just her personality, on and off the field, she is a positive person. I think that is a good attribute to have as a soccer player.”

Olver said she is excited to combine the next step in academics and athletics.

“It’s really interesting because in my sociology class right now we had a whole assignment during our Region V basketball tournament about sociology in sport, so it has really been fun to see the parallels in those,” she said. “I wish I could give you some deep philosophical thinking, but I think sports are viewed by some people as a conflict theory, like a fight for resources, a fight for the most points. But for me it is more about team building, it is about learning to work with people. So maybe it is even like a microcosm of society, little teams or bigger teams outworking the world.”

Mackenzie Olver is joined by members of the local soccer community after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Mackenzie Olver is joined by members of the local soccer community after signing a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)

Olver said she is leaving behind a TMHS team with great spirit and connectivity.

“I will definitely miss the friends I have made through it,” she said. “What I will miss the most is the van rides. That team spirit of being together and singing songs, getting ready for games together, and just having that consistent environment. It is awesome to have this new opportunity. I am so excited and thank you to everyone that helped me get her.”

Olver will be missed on the pitch.

Coach Kristen Wells, Mackenzie Olver, and coach Cindy Eriksen pose after Olver signed a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)be

Coach Kristen Wells, Mackenzie Olver, and coach Cindy Eriksen pose after Olver signed a national letter of intent on Thursday in the Thunder Mountain commons, to play soccer and study at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire)be

“Mac is a really hard worker and sets an example for all of her teammates by being critical and being thoughtful and just showing up to work every day,” TMHS coach Cindy Eriksen said.

Co-coach Kristen Wells said, “Mac is the best teammate. She works with everyone, is positive, supportive and if you get to see her on the pitch she is brilliant.”

And, of course, she will be missed at home.

“The sports piece will keep her sane,” Barry Olver said. “And she is going to a great college that I think is going to be really rewarding and continue to develop her mind and her future. She is fantastic. Her mother is such a good example. She is brilliant and fun and just a great kid.”

In a written note Mackenzie Olver thanked, “all my wonderful coaches who have stuck without our program through a few years of chaos and have been working hard to build us back up these last couple of years: Cindy Eriksen, Coach Wells, Martin and Konrad, the Juneau Soccer Club and particularly Matt Dusenberry… all my teammates for supporting me… my parents and family for encouraging me… and an additional thank you to John Newell and Jorge Cordero for their time and influence during my first years playing in high school.”

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