BLACKFOOT - Blackfoot's Olivia Arave made it official on Thursday, signing her National Letter of Intent to play basketball for Snow College next season
A sharp-shooting forward for the Broncos, Arave has been a pivotal piece in the turnaround that has occurred within the Blackfoot girl's basketball program.
The Broncos reached the state tournament this past season, finishing as consolation champions in the 4A classification. The team's appearance in the state tournament was the first since 2005.
Arave was looking at several junior colleges, including Walla Walla and Bellevue. But a recent trip to Snow College sealed the deal for Olivia.
"When I went there and visited it had a nice campus. I really like the coaches and the girls, and they were all super sweet. In the end, we felt like this was the best decision for me, and I'm really excited for this opportunity." said Arave
"One of the other benefits of Snow is that it's only five hours away (from Blackfoot). So it's still close enough to home, which was a big thing for me."
Arave has been one of several key pieces over the last four years for Bronco Head Coach Courtnie Smith. Coaching Olivia over the previous four years, Smith knows that the Badgers are getting an exceptional player and an even better person.
"They are getting a true student-athlete," said Smith.
"She's a student whose amazing in the classroom and also an amazing person in the community…They (Snow College) saw her play for 45 minutes and saw what we saw every night. She's going to be awesome, and they're lucky to have her."
Arave was a threat from beyond the arc all year for Blackfoot, wreaking havoc on opposing defenses. When asked about a notable memory from Olivia's time at Blackfoot, Smith noted a district tournament game this past season against Idaho Falls.
After being upset by Hillcrest in the opening round of the District Tournament, Smith didn't know how her team was going to react in the following game. Facing elimination against Idaho Falls, Arave would light a fire under the Broncos, hitting five three-pointers. Behind Arave's scorching hot night, the Broncos would secure an 83-39 win. Blackfoot, of course, would never look back, winning four straight games to reach the state tournament. Arave and the Broncos would also exact revenge on Hillcrest, beating the Knights in the consolation championship.
"That kind of sums up her leadership, and what she did for the program. That games against Idaho Falls sticks out to me because it's most recent, but I have a million things I could look back on," said Smith.
Although known for her 3-point shooting in high school, Arave hopes to expand her game at the collegiate level.
"I hope to really develop more of my jump shot and my dribble while I'm at Snow. Hopefully, I can continue developing as a basketball player and continue playing after my time at Snow,"
And while Arave's basketball career is now headed to the great state of Utah, her experiences at Blackfoot High School are something she'll never forget.
"The one thing that I'll take away from my time here at Blackfoot is just never giving up. Things can be hard, and there can be lots of barriers that get in the way. But if you push through you'll eventually be awarded…Being able to go to state this year and be with my teammates and coaches, and now getting to play college basketball. That's my reward."
Awarded a full-ride scholarship, Arave plans on knocking out her general electives at Snow College before pursuing a career in nursing.
A junior college located in Ephraim Utah, Snow College competes in the Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) along with the likes of College of Southern Idaho, College of Southern Nevada, Colorado Northwestern CC, Salt Lake CC, Truckee Meadows CC, and Utah State-Eastern.
The Badgers have been great in the 2018-2019 season, as they currently sit second in the conference with a 22-9 record. The team is currently participating in the NJCAA national tournament.
Playing alongside family
Olivia's time at Blackfoot has been a unique one, as she's had the opportunity to not only play alongside her younger sister Isabelle but also be coached by her father, Jared. For Arave, the experiences have crafted her into the basketball players she is today.
"My dad always kept me honest. He wasn't afraid to tell me what to do, and that's something I've always loved about having my dad as a coach. He was always able to tell me the truth, and explain why I had to do certain things. " said Olivia
Jared has been with the Blackfoot basketball programs since 2005 and helped coach Olivia for the last four years. For Jared, the experience of coaching both of his daughters have been more than worth it.
"It's a unique position because you have to put on two hats, the dad hat, and the coach hat…But it was fun because I've gotten to share the journey with her and Isabelle."
According to her dad, Olivia's original sport was volleyball. She played volleyball for the Broncos for four years and was initially better at the sport than she was at basketball. But by about her junior year, Olivia devoted herself to the game and became the player she is today.
And although it was just for a year, Olivia knows how special it was to play with her sister this past season.
"The favorite thing about playing with my sister is that she's a phenomenal basketball payer. One of my favorite memories is in a game we played this last year, and she assisted me, and the announcers said 'sister to sister assist.' It was a cool moment, and it was awesome to play with my sister. It was something I had never done before." said Olivia.
In the end, Olivia credit's her parents and Coach Smith for helping her get where she is today.
"My dad and mom have always believed in me and have always tried helping me, and giving me opportunities to play club ball and things like that…Also Coach Smith. She runs the club basketball program, and I don't know if I can be here without her being in Blackfoot and doing what she's done with this program. She was a major factor in my success. "
Olivia is the second member of Blackfoot's 2018 team to advance to play at the collegiate level. Teammate Allie Cannon signed her letter of intent to play at the College of Idaho last month.