Bates-Olson selected to RMAC Hall of Fame
She was the first soccer player to go into the Colorado Mesa University Hall of Honor, and now Cheryl Bates-Olson will be Mesa’s first men’s or women’s soccer player to be inducted into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Hall of Fame next summer.
“I was kind of amazed when I read that, too,” Bates-Olson said. “I had no idea I was the first soccer player. That was pretty neat.”
Bates-Olson is one of seven individuals and one team that will be inducted as part of the 2014 RMAC Hall of Fame class, the conference announced recently. The induction ceremony will be July 11 at the Colorado Springs Marriott Center.
“She won’t be able to get her head through the door,” her former Mesa State coach, Jim Buchan, said jokingly. “Because of what she did, the (athletic directors) looked at it and said now she needs to be in. It was the right decision. She’s the best player to ever play for Mesa. It’s fully deserved. It’s a true reflection on her personality and what she did for Mesa and the RMAC.”
Buchan coached the Mavericks for 12 years (1996 to 2007). He is now the director of coaching for a nonprofit program with more than 1,200 children in Cleveland, Ohio.
Bates-Olson was the RMAC Player of the Year twice, a first-team All-RMAC selection four times and a three-time All-American. In her career, Mesa won three RMAC championships and went to the NCAA Division II tournament three times. The Mavericks were 57-23-1 overall (35-12-1 RMAC) in her career.
“We had a really solid team,” Bates-Olson said. “That allowed us to accomplish what we did. Our center was pretty solid. That allowed us to keep others from scoring, and we scored a lot of goals. We had a good bench we could rely on. Everybody knew there job and got it done.”
While Bates-Olson was on the team, the Mavericks were ranked in the top 10 in the nation in Division II at one time.
The reason the Mavericks were so successful during Bates-Olson’s four years (1997-2000), she says, is because of a familiarity with her teammates.
She was one of nine players on the same club team from the Denver metro area who came to Mesa.
“I had a really good time playing there,” Bates-Olson said. “It was great (Buchan) picked nine of us up from our club team. A lot of our success came from playing together. When we were on the field we were having fun. We would win games and party after. We were really close with each other.”
Bates-Olson started every game and was the team captain throughout her career at Mesa.
“She’s a born leader,” Buchan said. “That’s why we were so successful. They were all great kids, but they needed a leader. I didn’t have to worry about what they were doing off the field. The kids wanted to play for her. She was my right-hand person. Each team needs a captain to show leadership and do the right things. Those kids are hard to come by. Trying to find those players with that leadership and not go (Division I) is hard to come by.”
Bates-Olson said Buchan was instrumental in keeping the group together so they could achieve success.
“(Buchan) was like my father away from home,” Bates-Olson said. “We would sit in his office and chit-chat. The nine of us from our club team were all homesick. He taught us a lot. He was a very emotional coach because he loved the sport, too. He would be so angry he wouldn’t talk to us the whole way home. That made it more meaningful. That experience made us play harder.”
Bates-Olson coached the girls soccer program at Horizon High School until she had her second child. She now coaches the youth soccer teams of her two children and is teaching at the school.
“I always thought I would (coach),” Bates-Olson said. “When I was done, being a teacher made it a lot easier to coach. When I got the position, they asked if I wanted to coach. It definitely made it easier to coach.”
The other 2014 RMAC Hall of Fame inductees are: Adams State cross-country runner Zoila Gomez (1998-2003); Colorado State coach Harry Hughes (1911-37), Chadron State Sports Information Director Con Marshall (1989-2007), Adams State runner Rick Robirds (1984-89), Nebraska-Kearney basketball player Eric Strand (1995-99), Western State football player Charlie Thompson (1977-79) and the 1989 Adams State women’s cross-country team.