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Minnesotan To Meet: 'Rethink The Win's' Lea B. Olsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Lynx are 7-0 already this season.

There next home game is Saturday, June 17.

While the Target Center undergoes renovations, their home court this season is the Xcel Energy Center. That is also the summer home for our Minnesotan to Meet, Lea B. Olsen, who has been covering the team from the very beginning.

As a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Olsen served as captain for the women's basketball team. She was also a standout high school athlete for Minneapolis South High School.

Using her experience as an athlete, and a broadcaster, she's asking others to "Rethink the Win," which makes her a Minnesotan to Meet.

As a child Olsen describes herself as an awkward kid.

"Sports saved me as a kid," Olsen said. "I was 6'1" as a 12-year-old girl. So when I finally found basketball, it really brought a confidence and brought a passion in me. So, it's been that space for me that I love being around."

Olsen has covered the NBA, WNBA, college basketball and even interviewed former President Bill Clinton. She now lives in Minneapolis with her husband Elliot and their two children.

She describes this generation of athletes as specialized and different than how she remembers.

"My kids are now just coming through youth sports. My son is a baseball player, my daughter played volleyball" Olsen said. "I started seeing these changes in youth sports, this focus on win-at-all-costs mentality. And when you do that, in particular with young athletes, you take away a lot of the benefits of what you gain from sports"

It's those experiences that inspired her to start "Rethink the Win."

Olsen's hope comes in two parts: To give young athletes a resource to stories of success and failures in athletics, and for parents and coaches to recognize that winning at all costs in youth sports is not the right approach.

"We have to start looking at all the other wins in sports," Olsen said. "The wins are learning how to be a great teammate, learning how to fail – get up, work hard, do it all again. We know that kids who participate in sports at young ages are more physically fit later in life, we know they are healthier and happier."

According to one survey by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, about 70 percent of kids quit playing sports by age 13. It's those kind of numbers that startle Olsen, who believes specializing in one sport isn't the answer.

Olsen hopes her "Rethink the Win" message will inspire young athletes and spark a conversation amongst her peers to make youth sports less about the pressure and the "W," and more about making our youth better people.

"My goals with 'Rethink the Win' is to start a national conversation about how we may want to think about how we're bringing sports to our kids," Olsen said. "I want to do that through interviewing athletes – professional athletes, college athletes – and having them tell their stories to younger athletes. I think the younger athletes are always looking up and they want to know, 'How did you do it? How did you navigate it? How did it work for you?'"

According to the National Federation of State High School associations Minnesota is tenth in the number of students participating in youth sports. It is ahead of states like: North Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Iowa was 19th last year, and Wisconsin was 14th.

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