SAAC Spotlight: Alaska Fairbanks' Olivia Kraska
Kraska averaged 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the 2021-22 season.
Kraska averaged 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the 2021-22 season.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes who are members of their respective institutions’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition to providing feedback on the student-athlete experience, conference and institutional SAAC members also offer input on the rules, regulations, and policies that affect student-athletes’ lives on NCAA member institution campuses.

Name: Olivia Kraska
Sport: Women's Basketball
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Year: Senior
Major/Minor: Psychology/Minor in Biological Sciences
Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

Why did you choose to attend UAF?: It was the best offer coming out of high school that met all of the educational and athletic goals I had set for myself.

What is your favorite class you have taken in college and why?: My favorite class I've taken at UAF so far was called Medical Humanities and it was offered through the honors college, so it was a very exclusive class with limited seats. This was the professor's intention so that the students could have very in-depth conversations regarding ethical concerns in the medical field.

Who is your favorite professor to date and why?: The professor for my Medical Humanities class, Dr. Elaine Drew, was one of the most understanding, charismatic and smart teachers that I have ever met at UAF. She was engaging and allowed us to really dive deep into these ethical dilemmas regarding our healthcare systems while learning different points of view, even ones we may not agree with.

How many years were you involved in SAAC?: Four years.

What made you want to be involved in SAAC?: I wanted to make a difference at my school by engaging with the community and by getting to know other student-athletes. It also seemed like a fun outside activity I could get involved in that would make my resume look more well-rounded.

What is your most memorable SAAC activity to date?: The Nanook Olympics in Spring 2022! It is an event where our SAAC plans a whole day of teams competing against each other in all the sports that we have at UAF to promote competitiveness and engagement.

What is the most important thing you've learned from balancing the demands of athletics and academics?: What hard work, leadership and resilience truly mean and how to work towards goals in a way that is healthy and will set me up for success on a day-to-day basis.
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome during your collegiate career?: Coming back to play for my junior year after COVID hit in 2020 and not being able to play games for a whole year. The mental and physical strength I had to build in order to do this was the hardest thing I ever did.
What does it mean to you to be a Division II student-athlete?: It means to be excellent and hard-working both as a student and as an athlete. Not one is placed higher than the other and both signify the level of determination someone has in order to be great at both.
What are your future goals after graduation?: Become a neurological-focused physical therapist that works with patients recovering after brain injuries specifically to regain muscle and physical movement again.
What is the best advice you would give to an incoming freshman?: Don't be afraid to embrace change and the work ethic necessary to be an athlete. There will be a lot of adversity and obstacles you have to overcome. Have confidence in your own work ethic and trust that you are able to do it.
What is your favorite sports-related moment?: Winning our first basketball game against Montana State Billings on their court in the fourth quarter. I had played the whole game and I ended up scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to put us up and also had the game-winning rebound to secure the win.
If you could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be (and why)?: I'd spend it with Simone Biles so I could understand more about her own performance anxiety and mental health struggles at such a high level of competition.
Favorite Athlete: Sue Bird
What is one thing that people don't know about you?: I grew up spending more time on a snow machine than on a basketball court when I was a kid.