Olivia Wikstrom is headed back to the Pacific Northwest to join Western Washington University’s women’s basketball team next year.
Wikstrom enters Western with two years of eligibility, despite playing two seasons at Utah State University and one at the University of Northern Colorado. After the COVID-19 pandemic halted athletics, the NCAA granted collegiate athletes an extra year of playing.
At Bainbridge Island High School, Wikstrom began what would become a long basketball career. In high school, she earned the Kitsap County Player of the Year twice. She once scored 44 points in a game against Olympic High School during her junior year.
“I’m a really aggressive, up-tempo kind of player. I’m a scorer. My mom ran at University of Washington and all of her sisters are runners, I just like to run,” Wikstrom said.
Wikstrom continued to score at will during her high school days. She became Bainbridge High School’s career points leader with 1,796. She averaged 26 points per game her senior year, the most by any Bainbridge player since 1980 when Cheron Moyle averaged 23.2 points per game.
“She put in a tremendous amount of extra work outside of practice,” said Malia Peato, high school teammate and longtime friend of Wikstrom. “She was always the first one to practice and the last one to leave.”
After one year at Division I school, the University of Northern Colorado, Wikstrom averaged 3.9 points per game coming off the bench.
“My team did really well; we were at the top of the Big Sky [Conference],” Wikstrom said. “I got to play pretty good minutes for a freshman. It was kind of a tough experience because it was COVID-19.”
Jenny Huth coached Wikstrom at Northern Colorado, and has coached at other schools including UCLA and Oregon State University.
“[Olivia] is a long and athletic player, hard worker, [and has the] ability to take it to the rack and hit the three,” Huth said.
After her single season at Northern Colorado, Wikstrom transferred to Division I school Utah State, a member of the Mountain West Conference. Here, she provided a spark off the bench as well as finding herself in the starting five for almost half of the games last season. In her final year at Utah State, she averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
With a career-high 21 points against Cal State Fullerton and five steals and five assists, Wikstrom showed her greatness on the Division I level.
“She's so tough and fearless. We would put her at the top of our defensive press, and she would turn people over with her length all the time,” said Laci Hawthorne, former Utah State teammate.
Wikstrom has now committed to Western Washington University for the 2023-24 season.
“There’s just something special about playing for your home state and in front of family,” Wikstrom said.
At Western, women's basketball prides itself on its athletes’ academic success. This season, eight student-athletes earned All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference Academic honors for women’s basketball.
Similarly, Wikstrom has been putting emphasis on the student in student-athlete. She earned Academic All-Big Sky (2020) honors while at Northern Colorado. At Utah State, she earned Academic All-Mountain West (2022) honors.
“She takes pride in her academics,” Huth said.
Next year, Wikstrom will join a team head coached by Carmen Dolfo, someone who has known Wikstrom since her high school days at Bainbridge Island. Wikstrom was teammates in high school with Aspen Dolfo, Carmen’s daughter, on The Way to Win club basketball team.
“[Dolfo] recruited me when I was in high school. I really liked her and Aspen, but I just really wanted to play D1,” Wikstrom said.
After experiencing three years of Division I basketball, Wikstrom will play in Division II for the first time with the Vikings.
“It’s been great, but it’s also kind of a job playing at the Division I level. So, I think for me, getting the opportunity to play for [Dolfo] and the winning program would be a really fun opportunity to return home,” Wikstrom said.
She will join a team that made it to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II Championships West Regional tournament last season.
“[Olivia] will bring that competitive edge to her new team. I think she'll play with a bit of a chip on her shoulder because she has something to prove,” Hawthorne said.
With five seniors gone from last season's team, the Vikings will be looking to replace two key starting guards: Avery Dykstra and Mollie Olson. With Wikstrom's height and length, she will be able to bring the defense and playmaking this team is going to need next season.
“She is driven to be the best player on the court and driven to be a good friend to everyone she meets,” Peato said.
Wikstrom has been studying business with a focus on becoming an accountant.
Zen Hill (he/him) is a sports reporter for The Front. He is studying journalism with a public relations focus with hopes of becoming a sports broadcaster. He comes from Julian, a small town in San Diego County where he grew up playing basketball, soccer, track and field and baseball.