The following was sent by the parents of Steele point guard and Southern Illinois signee, Olivia Patterson. Olivia IS a great story. Her size has been a constant obstacle in her journey of earning a Division 1 scholarship. I have wrote about Olivia numerous times as being one of the best point guards in the city. However, my assessment of her being the 24th best player in the city in an earlier ranking was cause for her father to politely disagree with my opinion. In my response to her father I wrote, "It does not matter what I think, only what college coaches think". Southern Illinois saw a kid that was an 'Overcomer" and thought enough of her to make an investment into her future, all while basically rendering all other opinions of Olivia meaningless. I was one of those that thought Olivia was going to enter her senior basketball year unsigned and with something to prove. I was partly right. Olivia enters her senior campaign SIGNED but still with something to prove. She is aimed at Austin for her third consecutive year and being the point guard for the eventual state champions! And yes, she also out to prove that some of us can not see the forrest for the trees and she is very underated! Keep showing and proving young lady! Her family writes:
"If you were to ask a college basketball recruiter if they had a choice to sign one of two point guards, both with excellent court vision, elite ball handling ability, and lockdown defense , and one of them was 5’7” and the other 5’0”, which would they choose? Ninety nine percent of the time they would choose the taller of the two. It’s nothing wrong with that choice it’s just smart recruiting. Basketball is a game of “inches” and by the way, pun is intended. Over the past seven years we as parents have continuously attempted to put our daughter Olivia in the best situations possible to achieve her dreams of playing DI college basketball. From having our own basketball club, coaching, and fundraising we have done it all!
Olivia has a passion for the game that is undeniable, even though her small stature always appeared evident to others. Her effortless hard-work and talent was something that as parents we seen defy all odds. We recognized that the desire and love that Olivia has for basketball is a gift from God. Through our family’s journey we strongly held on to Romans 11:29 that states “For the gifts and calling of God are without (irrevocable) repentance”. That was the foundation of our faith. Because God said It, It was so! We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:20)! We took the advice of a wise AAU coach and began to narrow down the schools that would be ideal for Olivia. We sent out video footages and profiles to these colleges, and received very favorable responses.
Olivia began to draw interest from colleges the summer of her 8th grade year. There were several NCAA- DI, II, III, and NAIA suitors, all expressing their desires to eventually have her as a member of their program. As we all know coaches change, philosophy’s change and so do priorities and needs. Over the next three summers of playing competitive basketball it became apparent that 5 foot point guards weren’t on anybody’s short list of “must have recruits”. One DI College in particular had all but offered her a scholarship, but after her junior season that program stopped contacting her. Were we upset, absolutely! But as parents who were educated on the business and politics of college basketball we took it as an opportunity for another program to gain an outstanding player. After sending video footage to several colleges we decided to also purchase an account with www.berecruited.com . It’s a high school sports search engine for college coaches to search and observe footage of perspective student athletes. Olivia managed the account and updated it as needed.
Though we had struggles and let downs, we can say that we have learned to count it all joy (James 1:2)! Going into her senior year rumors flared and speculations that Olivia had a lot to prove this year, considering that she was going in as an unsigned senior. One Saturday afternoon Olivia’s basketball trainer sat down with us and stated that he continued to believe in Olivia’s abilities, but he didn’t see her putting out the effort as before. When asked by her trainer, if she felt like should could play at the Division I level, without a hesitation in her voice she resoundingly said Yes!
About three weeks later Olivia was working on her game when she received a message from an assistant coach expressing great interest in Olivia hoping she was still “available”. After making contact with the coach, she was down the following week to observe Olivia in person. Southern Illinois University was very pleased. So much so they offered her a scholarship the next day. The new head coach, Missy Tiber expressed to Olivia that she ran a up tempo offense where the point guard played a significant role and that Olivia “FIT” what she was trying build. Beyond the game of basketball SIU has a history of holding the top GPA’s among their student athletes within their conference. As parents we truly believe in what it means to be a student-athlete, with Olivia being in the top 10% of her graduating class. SIU’s commitment to academic excellence weighed heavily on our choice. After an official visit two weeks later Olivia gave them a verbal, and signed a national letter of intent this past week.
As parents we see Olivia as a strong, yet silent, humble leader both on and off the court. Though her many sacrifices as being a true point guard often goes unnoticed, she has the heart of a giver as evident by her outstanding playmaking abilities. As we bring to a close the chapter of high school basketball and AAU tournaments, we prepare Olivia to move into a new era of her basketball career at the college level. Making sure she never forgets “Being confident of this very thing that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”(I Philippians 1:6), as she remains humble God will continue to exalt her in due time ( I Peter 5:6).
So what do you take from the Patterson’s journey? Write the VISION and make it plain! “For the VISION is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will SURELY come, it will not tarry” Habakkuk 2:3"
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to share our story,