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Student engineer balances books and basketball

Bennett Leckrone and Marissa McDaid | Apr 29, 2019
Olivia Bower
Photo courtesy of Ohio Athletics

Student engineer balances books and basketball

Bennett Leckrone and Marissa McDaid | Apr 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of Ohio Athletics

While most Ohio University engineering students study in the Academic & Research Center, OHIO Women’s Basketball forward Olivia Bower took advantage of game commutes to get her homework done.

A graduating senior in civil engineering at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Bower managed 20 hours a week of basketball practice, as well as games and travel, on top of her studies.

“It took a lot of sacrifice, a lot of evenings spent by myself with my books, but hopefully it’ll be worth it,” Bower said.

Despite receiving full-ride basketball scholarships to other universities, Bower chose OHIO for its strong civil engineering program, Bower said. OHIO gave her the opportunity to pursue both her dreams of playing Division I basketball and enrolling in a specialized engineering program that many Many Mid-American Conference schools don’t have. After playing for the Bobcats her freshman year, she earned a scholarship.

Women’s Basketball Head Coach Bob Boldon said Bower’s work ethic is visible both on and off the court. He’d often see her working on the bus to and from games, and at dinners, in addition to student athlete study halls.

“She’s somebody who is dedicated to her craft both academically and athletically,” he said.

Bower is both a bobcat and an OHIO Athletics legacy: Her mother, Kathy, BSED ’90, and father, Chris, BSEE ‘93, both attended OHIO and played basketball and football, respectively. Bower grew up around the university, attending various athletic events but never feeling any pressure to enroll at OHIO.

Issam Khoury, civil engineering associate professor, called Olivia a dedicated and communicative student who always shared her game schedule and made efforts to stay on top of her classwork.

“Athletes are some of the best students we have, because they seem to have figured out the proper balance between their responsibility to finish the degree program they started, and at the same time, fulfill their dedication to their athletic endeavor,” Khoury said.

This past season, Bower started in 16 games and appeared in 35, averaging around 19 minutes per game. She helped the team to a 30-6 record -- the winningest season in team history -- and a Mid-American Conference East Division Championship. OHIO made it all the way to the MAC Championship game as the No. 2 seed before falling to Buffalo. Bower also helped OHIO advance to the round of eight in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

“She’s going to do what’s necessary of her, whether it’s from an academic standpoint or an athletic standpoint,” Boldon said. “She’s very reliable. She’s not a person who needs a lot of supervision.”

After graduation, Bower plans to work in civil engineering and pursue a master’s degree. She said her time has a student athlete has helped to prepare her for her next steps.

“Through the time management and all of the adversities, whether it’s physical and mental from basketball, or balancing basketball and school and social life -- it has really helped me evolve as a person.”

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.