It was a desk job that convinced Renee Olsen to coach lacrosse. The summer before her senior year at Trinity College, Olsen, a star player on the women’s lacrosse team, realized that working in an office wasn’t going to cut it.

“Coaching was always something I enjoyed but I didn’t think I would pursue it after college,” she said. “Then my internship made me realize that I couldn’t do a desk job.”

Renee Olsen (center, standing) watches the action while coaching the Elon University Division I women’s lacrosse program. This fall, Olsen will be making the move to Lewiston, where she will be coaching the Bates College women’s lacrosse team. Elon University photo

Now, years later, Olsen is preparing for the third coaching position in her career by making the move to Lewiston to assume duties as the head coach of the Bates College women’s lacrosse team. She will be the eighth head coach in program history, after Brett Allen, who led the Bobcats to a 110-109 record over 15 seasons, resigned to pursue other professional interests.

Olsen is excited to be in Maine, and said the location was “one of the biggest draws” when she chose to work at Bates, especially because her love of the outdoors. In addition, the coach is excited to be a part of the college’s community.

“One of the great things about Bates and what I’ve heard is the supportive community,” she said. “That’s been a huge thing for me, just being a part of a community where everyone supports each other.”

Olsen is making the move from North Carolina, where she has coached defense for the Division I Elon University women’s lacrosse program for two years. While she was the assistant coach, the team’s defense ranked third in Division I in goals allowed per game.

Before her stint at Elon, Olsen was an assistant coach at Colby College. During her four years in Waterville, she coached three All-Americans, four All-NESCAC honorees and one NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Her experience as a player at Trinity and a coach at Colby prove Olsen is no stranger to the NESCAC. As a player on the Trinity women’s lacrosse team, she reached the NCAA tournament in all four seasons and won the 2012 national championship.

Those career benchmarks helped set her apart in the hiring process, Bates Athletic Director Jason Fein said.

“Her experience both in the (NESCAC) conference and in getting out into the (Division I) world at Elon showed us that she wasn’t afraid to take risks and further improve herself, something that will translate to success here at Bates,” he said.

Fein also noted her “spirit and winning attitude” proved important, and said “it was obvious from the moment we met her on Zoom that she really wanted to be at Bates, and that she felt she could improve on what was already a quality program by connecting with our student-athletes.”

Looking ahead, Olsen is focused on finding the “full potential” of the Bates squad.

“Obviously more wins than losses is important, but I also want to focus on developing an athletic IQ and lacrosse IQ,” she said. “This group seems really competitive and eager to work hard. I’m excited.”

There will be challenges, however, especially since on next year’s team, the juniors, sophomores, and first-years will have never experienced a full season of college lacrosse.

“I think that’s a challenge, but an exciting challenge,” Olsen said. “Everyone is happy for a more normal year.”

Fein agreed that it has been unusual for many athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and said he hopes the new coach accomplishes “team cohesion,” and will make sure the team is successful in the competitive division.

“Our teams should feel prepared to be out there on that stage each and every game, and ready to compete against the best,” he said. “Renee’s winning drive and competitive spirit, coupled with a nurturing tone, should help set the team on the right path.”


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