When Jayme Olson chose to come to Iowa State out of Bettendorf, Iowa she had a dream much like many student-athletes, to make an impact and a difference at Iowa State. At the time, it was 1994 and the Cyclones had just five winning seasons in the history of the program. They had never made the postseason, but Olson didn’t care.
Her freshman season the team went 8-19.
After that, she started to rethink whether she would be able to make an impact.
However, with the resignation of then-head coach Theresa Becker, Iowa State began its search for a new head coach. It wasn’t long before they decided on then-Toledo coach Bill Fennelly. Fennelly had revitalized the Mid-American Conference program into an NCAA tournament team year-in and year-out.
“Coach Fennelly came in and really brought a breath of fresh air and a whole new motivation level for us,” Olson said. “We started to get things turned around and started to believe that we could compete.”
Olson was one of the cornerstones of Fennelly’s team. Under Fennelly, she started every game she played, eventually finishing her career holding ISU records on 13 season and 15 career lists. Olson helped lead the Cyclones to their first two NCAA appearances, and the first NCAA Tournament win in school history her senior year against Kent. Olson’s 1,799 career points currently ranks fourth in school history.
Olson’s athletic accomplishments have not been forgotten by Iowa State. In 2004, Olson’s jersey was officially retired and hangs in the rafters in Hilton Coliseum and tonight she will be honored once again as she is inducted into the ISU Letterwinners Athletics Hall of Fame.
Today, Olson proudly displays her Cyclone banner in her home in eastern Iowa and continues to share her memories of her time donning the Cardinal and Gold.
Of course, Olson can’t reflect back on her time at Iowa State without mentioning the Little Clone Club.
“The biggest thing I remember is the Little Clone Club,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of people at our games [at first], but those kids and their families were so dedicated and they were cheering us on and those kids thought that we were great and wonderful even though we weren’t winning. When I look back, and think that I was a role model for those kids and I gave them something to cheer about that is something that stands out in my mind. There was such a family feel.”
After starting her career with an 8-19 season, it makes being inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend even more bittersweet.
“When I think of all the great athletes that have come out of Iowa State, and to feel that they wanted to honor me is just humbling,” she said. “I just feel grateful, and I am just glad I can be a part of this. I’m forever a Cyclone and proud to be one.”