Sarah Olson was four years old when she first stepped onto a soccer pitch. It was love at first sight. By the time she was in kindergarten, she was playing community club soccer, and by age seven, was eagerly attending extra training sessions at a soccer academy. A few years later, when Sarah didn't feel challenged enough in her club team games, she asked to “move up” an age-group. League policy wouldn't allow this, so a very determined Sarah joined boys soccer for a time so that she could play in a more competitive field.
Colin Elmes was Sarah’s soccer coach for the first few years of her training at TSS Academy in Richmond, B.C., a suburb of Vancouver. “Sarah stood out as one of the more dominant players,” recalls Elmes. “Even as a young player, she was very keen and tuned into the game, and continues to be a great contributor to the team in which she’s involved. She leads by example.”
Though soccer has been the focus of her energy and passion for much of her life, Sarah has also been quietly, but steadily, expanding the spiritual dimensions of her life.
Several times each year for many years, Sarah's grandparents, Reg and Gwen Olson of Kelowna, B.C., have made the 4.5 hour drive to Richmond to visit with Sarah and her family. Years ago, Reg and Gwen, who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, began a tradition of bringing their young grandchildren along to Church during these family visits. It was a happy experience for Sarah and her older brother, James, and as teenagers, they began attending on a regular basis, even when their grandparents weren’t in town.
Their desire to learn more about the Gospel led them to meet with the full-time missionaries. “James and I figured out pretty quickly that we wanted to join the Church, but our parents didn’t want us to rush into anything” says Sarah. She and James continued with the lessons, but didn’t pressure their parents about permission for baptism. Even so, the siblings were eager to be involved in the ward. Dedicated members of the Richmond ward supported Sarah and James by providing countless rides to early-morning Seminary, Sunday services, Mutual, dances, and other activities.
In the spring of 2010, parents Mitch and Debbie Olson gave their permission, and on April 28, 2010, Sarah and James were baptized. Three days later, the two joined 1200 other LDS youth as they performed in the “Vancouver Temple Youth Celebration” for an audience that included President Monson and President Uchtdorf prior to the temple dedication.
Today, Sarah and her brother continue to be active members of the Richmond Ward. Sarah serves as a counselor in her Young Women's Laurel Presidency, and as a special assistant in her seminary class. “I still don't know everything about the Gospel”, says Sarah, “but I hope to continue learning throughout my life so that I can be an inspiration to others”.
Sarah continues to play competitive soccer, currently as team captain of the U17 Gold Richmond Rockets. After high school graduation next year, one of her goals is to play for a university team. As she continues to grow and develop in her athletic and spiritual life, Sarah has a plan; “It'd be really cool to play soccer for BYU. They have a good team, and it'd be cool to be with all the members.”