The other Olynyk making an impact on the hoops court

By Earl Seitz/Ryan Flaherty
November 28, 2017 - 3:19pm Updated: November 28, 2017 - 6:02pm

KAMLOOPS — Now in his 5th season in the league Kelly Olynyk, has become a bonafide NBA star.

In Kamloops a household name when it comes to local athletes.

But in Saskatoon the Olynyk name might be better associated with Kelly's younger sister.

For many young athletes going from high school star, where she won two provincial championships with South Kam, to a university role player can be a tough pill to swallow.

Throw in a major injury and it's enough to make some walk away from the game.

But Maya Olynyk of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies is proving that there's power in positivity.

There are no cheerleaders in basketball, but when Maya is on your team, you don't need any.

"I love seeing people succeed, and I love seeing this program succeed", says Maya, "so when my teammates do something I'm so proud of them."

It's impossible to miss Olynyk at a Saskatchewan Huskies practice or game --- she's the one with the infectious smile.

"I love to play basketball, so I'm happy everytime I'm in the gym."

Says Saskatchewan coach Lisa Thomaidis "you can always count on Maya for that vocal presence on the bench, so she's going to get jacked when teammates do well."

Early in her Huskie career that was Olynyk's primary role, but this season the Kamloops native is proving she's got a lot more to give, emerging as one of the teams top scoring threats off the bench.

Flashback a couple of years and it almost did'nt happen.   Forced to sit out a season because of injury Olynyk seriously considered staying home.

"I did'nt think I was going to come back.  I went to help out with my former high school (South Kam) team, and that's when I realized I could'nt not come back." says Olynyk.

"It's what I love to do, and I would feel very empty without being here."

Says Coach Thomaidis, "when you have players who overcome adversity, when they come through it and come out the other end, it's typically a much stronger, more resilient player, than they were before."

While Olynyk may be doing more on the court this season, her attitude hasn't changed.

"I love basketball, so being a role player, that's just as fun."

Olynyk leads Canada West in three point percentage, going 10-for-19 from outside for the league leading 8-and-0 Saskatchewan Huskies.

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