DE PERE – Olivia DeCleene is quick as a hiccup.
The De Pere senior has proven that in basketball, cross-country and track during her high school career.
DeCleene is also pretty crafty in laser tag.
“She was flying around and doing spin moves,” De Pere girls basketball coach Jeremy Boileau said about DeCleene’s performance during a team-building exercise.
DeCleene has used those same type of moves on the court to help put the Redbirds at the top of the Fox River Classic Conference standings with four conference games remaining, including a rematch Saturday against second-place Bay Port.
The 5-foot-2 guard leads the FRCC with 3.8 assists per game and ranks second with 2.7 steals per game.
Her running resume includes four WIAA state appearances between the cross-country and track seasons.
DeCleene discusses her quickness, overcoming injuries and trying to keep up with her four older brothers in this week’s Senior Spotlight.
How pumped up are you for Saturday’s rematch against Bay Port?
I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I know our whole team is. We always say one game at a time, but we are obviously looking forward to the big games because that one is going to decide possibly who takes conference. It should be fun. Hopefully, we both can play our best games.
What’s the secret behind why De Pere is consistently strong in basketball?
I think it definitely comes down to the coaching. They build us up from when we’re in second grade all the way through high school. When you think of De Pere, I think of the coaches, all the way from coach (Dave) Johnson, (Kelly) McNiff, Coach Boileau, and all the assistants, too. The coaches have been phenomenal for I don’t even know how long, but a long time.
How do you feel Coach Boileau has done in making the transition from being a boys assistant coach to the girls head coach?
I think he’s made a very good adjustment. It’s almost like if you look at how we’ve been playing, you’d think he’s been here for a few years. There is almost like no hiccup with us. I think he brings a lot of good stuff over to the girls side with just how we play with energy and confidence.
You’re ultra-quick on the basketball court and make a lot of hustle plays for your team. How much pride do you take in playing that role?
I take a lot of pride in that. Obviously, I know I’m not the tallest person, so that’s where I’ve got to make it up with my speed. Getting after loose balls and being a hectic person to the players I’m playing against is what I have to do. I know our whole team takes pride in defense because if we do well on defense, it’s going to lead to some points on offense.
You posted very impressive times as an underclassman in cross-country and track before battling some injuries. How did coming back from those ultimately make you stronger as a basketball player?
Growing up, basketball was always the one. That’s what I played and that’s what I was actually pretty good at. It wasn’t until middle school when running was kind of brought into my life. I did well with that, but when those injuries occurred, it kind of put a damper on running and basketball because my confidence wasn’t there. Trying to come back from those injuries was really tough. I’m glad where I’m at with basketball right now. I will say I’m happy with where I’m at with running, too. I know I’m not as fast as I used to be because I kind of had to limit my training so I didn’t get injured again. But I’m definitely happy with running this year and our (cross-country) team making it to state for the first time. Basketball is what I love, though. It’s kind of always been my passion. I’m good with how I’m doing and how my team is doing, most importantly, because we have each other’s back.
What was it like qualifying for state cross-country as a team?
Going as an individual, that’s cool and everything, but going as a team is even better because the experience was so different. I know after finishing at sectionals one of the first things I asked was, “How did we do?” I heard some things before it was official, but once they for sure said we were going there was a lot of joy going through me and my teammates.
Did your experience with injuries spark your interest to pursue a career in the medical field?
I would definitely say I wanted to become a (physical therapist) after I got hurt a few years ago because I was in physical therapy so much. That’s kind of why I want to be one now. I want to be able to help people who are injured. I want to help them get back on their feet.
How tough were your four older brothers on you as a kid?
I’ll say no doubt when I was younger they beat up on me. At the time, I didn’t like it. But I look back at it now and I don’t think I’d be the athlete I am without my brothers because they were hard on me. I’ll give a shout out to them because they kind of molded me into the athlete I am today.
What’s one of your earliest sports memories?
I just always remember going to my brothers’ tournaments. I have a picture with Rod Kowalczyk where I’m passing him the ball. But from a young age, I just always had a basketball with me because I went to so many tournaments with my brothers.
What’s your most embarrassing sports moment?
I think it might have been fifth or sixth grade when we played a team from Milwaukee. Have you heard of (Michigan State recruit) Sidney Cooks? I remember they had only four people playing on their team and we had five people, and they still beat us. I also have a picture with Sidney. I’m about this tall, and she’s about this much taller. One of the parents got a cool picture of both of us running down the court. It was fun, but it was like, “Holy smokes, these people are 6 feet tall.”
What’s your favorite sports memory?
I would say in fifth grade when we took second at state. Our whole team was kind of unstoppable, or that’s how I think of it as. We didn’t lose for a while growing up. Fifth grade was the first year we played at state. That was a really fun weekend. I know as we got older it got harder and harder, and we never placed second again, but it was just a cool experience.
Did De Pere seniors Lizzie Miller and Liz Nies come up with an agreement as kids to make sure they didn’t use the same abbreviation for their first names in order to prevent any confusion?
That’s kind of how it was I think. They kind of came up with it by themselves.
Which teammate would you bring on a roller coaster?
I would probably bring Lizzie Miller on a roller coaster. I know in eighth grade we went to Six Flags together. I’m actually not a big fan of roller coasters, but the first few I went on were with her. We went on that pirate ship one and I puked after.
Who on the team would you entrust to take care of your dog?
My dog actually doesn’t like (strangers). My teammates are a little afraid of him. But I would pick Lauren DeMille because she has a dog of her own.
Which teammate would you give half of your lottery winnings to if you won?
Anna Boyd. I feel like she knows how to use her money pretty well. She would probably use it on a bunch of concerts because she loves going to concerts.
Who on the team could survive on a deserted island?
Lexi Cerrato. I think she could survive on an island that nobody else is on because she knows how to make friends on her own. She could make friends with animals or whatever objects there are that don’t even talk. She’s that kind of person.
Which teammate would mostly like be afraid of a spider?
Abby Hohol. I don’t know if she actually is afraid of spiders, but she kind of seems like that person. She’s loud, so if she sees something in the corner I could see her jumping a little bit.
Who on the team should have their own reality TV show?
Annie Schneider. I know she’s new to the team this year, so I don’t know a ton about her. I’d love to learn more about her, and she seems like she would be pretty funny on a reality TV show.
Class: Human anatomy and chemistry.
TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Movie: “Miracles from Heaven.”
Music: Country and pop.
Childhood toy: Basketball.
Athlete: Aaron Rodgers.
“She brings a lot of energy to our team. She gets us started by getting the ball up the floor because we want to play fast, and we want to play fast on defense. We want to get after it. She sets the tone for both sides and really plays into how we want to play.”
— De Pere girls basketball coach Jeremy Boileau
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @andrewpekarek.