No sinking this Bui

On the outside, Olivia Bui looks like any other student-athlete at Green River Community College.

The 2002 South Kitsap High School graduate is athletic, smart, and one of the toughest rebounders in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Col-leges (NWAACC).

She lives with three roommates, has a job, and does well in school.

There’s nothing odd about this life she is living now.

But it is a far cry from the life she used to live only a few months ago.

After graduation in June, playing basketball at the college level was one of the furthest goals from Bui’s mind.

But getting into a college was always her goal.

It’s in college where she would not only continue her education but taste something she hasn’t tasted before — freedom.

Bui prefers not to share the details of her childhood, but in high school living under one roof didn’t last very long.

“I lived in about five or six different places,” Bui said. “I lived in a foster home for a little bit, but my friends’ parents took me in at various times.”

Bui said playing sports was always fun, but it also provided a diversion from having to face her home life.

She loved her friends and their parents, but there was always that feeling she was a burden to them.

She couldn’t wait to graduate and live her own life.

But she had to get through her senior year first.

The days went by faster with sports.

In the fall there was volleyball, the winter was basketball, and in the spring she gave the discus and shotput a try in track and field.

Despite the positive influence sports had on Bui, she said it was impossible to escape her problems.

“There were points where I wanted to just give up,” Bui said. “I kept saying ‘I don’t want this. It’s too tough.’”

Bui said the future is what kept her going.

To most seniors in high school graduation is a symbol of one attaining their independence. It’s time to break away from their parents.

For Bui, she already knew what it was like to be independent.

What she didn’t have is her freedom.

Even after graduation she didn’t have her freedom yet.

She was uncertain of what college she would attend.

That uncertainty switched to possibility when former South Kitsap girls basketball coach Gary Wilson informed her Green River was looking for some players to fill the women’s roster.

Bui went to the tryout and immediately made an impression on Green River coach Pete Finlon.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to play basketball again,” Bui said.

She stands at just 5--4 inches and isn’t even a post player.

Besides being one of the team’s top scorers, she is Green River’s top rebounder through the first eight games of the season.

Her knack for getting rebounds doesn’t surprise Bui’s high school coach, Mike Allen.

“Olivia is one of the hardest-working guards I ever had the privilege of coaching,” Allen said. “She has a very intense game attitude and works hard to make her team better whenever she is on the floor.”

Bui is humble, but she admits she’s a natural born leader.

The first day of practice at Green River is an example of her leadership.

“I took the role of the leader right away and ran the show a little bit,” Bui said. “I’m not the team captain, but I feel like I’m at a high level mentally. I just feel like I have the confidence to lead.”

As for the development of her game, Bui credits Allen for molding her into the player she is today.

“I’m fundamentally sound because of Allen,” she said. “I told him how I have so much respect for him. He told me what sets me apart from most other players is the little things I do that nobody else does.”

Allen said Bui’s fearless attitude is what makes her stand tall on the court.

“She will get on the floor for loose balls, rebound with the big trees in the post, and run the floor with anyone,” Allen said.

Bui said she’s still shocked to find herself on the basketball court and furthering her education.

“I’m living my life and that’s the way I want it. There’s nothing like it,” Bui said.

Bui’s day is so full she said she’s almost forgot what it’s like to have a social life.

Though special need grants and partial scholarship money has enabled her to attend school at no cost to her, Bui knew she had to find a job where she could work and play basketball.

She laughs when she tells people she works at McDonald’s.

That accounts for 25 hours out of her week, on top of 15 hours of school and more than 10 hours of basketball practice.

Some would be stressed out. Bui said she’s loving the whole experience.

“Hey, McDonald’s pays for my rent,” she said. “This is not a bad situation. Only positive things come out of it.”

Bui said the most stressful part of her new life was finding what classes to take.

It didn’t take long for her to find out that criminal justice was the career path she wants to take.

Bui said the toughest part of her life now is being away from her sister, Christina, who is following her sister’s footsteps on the varsity basketball team at SK.

“It’s so hard being away from her,” Bui said. “I barely get to see her, so we mainly talk on the phone. That’s tough because she is my family.”

Bui said she’s more than thankful for her opportunity to further her education and continue playing basketball.

But it’s not like there is anyone to thank — except herself.

“I am thankful that I get another chance at life,” Bui said. “It’s important to take the opportunities given. Now I can concentrate on being the best player I can be because the pressure isn’t there anymore.”

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