It’s late at night in Cypress, Tex., but that has little effect on a warrior’s preparation. Reminiscent of a young Michael Jordan in “Space Jam,” Cy-Fair High School’s Olivia Noah is shooting a basketball late at night to work on her skills as a shooter.
“I am pretty religious about shooting every single day,” said Noah, now a junior forward on UNA’s women’s basketball team. “You can ask my parents, I would be outside at ten o’clock at night making sure I was shooting, and all the coaches I ever had. It was like you prepare for game time when it is not game time and the lights are off with nobody looking.
“I’ve just always loved to go outside or in the gym and just mess around with the ball, or play one on one with people. I feel like it helps develop your game more than people think and it allows you to keep a creative edge on the court too.”
This heavy practicing is not surprise. Not only is Noah a hardworking athlete by nature, but she comes from a region where high school sports are played at a much higher skill level than most other states. The state of Texas is not just a football factory: It takes many of its sports seriously, breeding a challenging and competitive atmosphere for all athletes.
“One-hundred percent,” Noah said of the challenging atmosphere of Texas girls basketball. “My high school district was extremely competitive. One of the girls I played against on a nightly bases won a national championship at Baylor [University]. We have girls in the Pac-12 – it was loaded. Even on my team, I played with a girl who is now a point guard at Kansas State [University].”
Following her graduation from Cy-Fair High School, Noah also chose the Division I route, signing with the University of Incarnate Word. Her team there, the Cardinals, were 10-48 in the two seasons that Noah played. She eventually made the decision that many modern NCAA athletes make, and entered the transfer portal to see if there were better options for the remainder of her playing career.
“Well, she entered the transfer portal and we found out she was there and we grabbed her video from all her games,” said UNA’s women’s baketball head coach Missy Tiber. “We looked into her footage to see if she had anything that could fit well into our system and we thought she did so we moved to the next stage. We reached out to her, her high school coach and touched base with her old coaches to get a character check and some background information on her and that was how the transfer came about. Then we invited her on a tour and we all just fell in love with each other. Them with our campus and staff, and us with her and her family.”
Noah transitioned into a new atmosphere with new players she had never really met before, and a system and regimen she was unaccustomed to in her day-to-day life. Her her hard work and goofy personality soon took over the program and integrated her with her new teammates.
“Noah is the silliest girl I have ever met,” said senior guard Ansley Eubank. “There is nobody like her and I mean that in a good way. She is so fun to be around off the court. She is just funny and goofy in a different way and I do not know how to describe it.”
The two have developed a close bond off the court.
“We have this thing we do where we go to Umi – the hibachi restaurant – then we go get frozen yogurt while jamming to Big Papa, which is her favorite singer,” Eubank said. “Not to mention she just eats so fast and its crazy. So that is just my favorite thing about her is the time I spend with her doing our own little thing.”
Eubank is not the only player that believes adding Noah has changed the team for the better. Her impact extends far on the team.
“At first, she was really quiet around everybody, and I was like I do not feel like I really know her yet,” said redshirt freshman Savannah Hall. “And then once I did, I was like ‘oh my gosh I want her to go back.’ Nah I’m just kidding she is just hilarious.”
Noah’s self-effacing character off the court and supportive attitude on it, has made a profound impact on Hall.
“When we were in Iowa and we went to eat after the game I look down and there is snow on the ground and she is wearing slides with no socks,” Hall said. “I said, ‘Noah it is twenty degrees outside and you are wearing slides with no socks,’ and she responded with ‘I got to let the toes breath.’ In all seriousness though she has helped me through self-doubt with the most encouraging words and that is my favorite thing about her.”
While Noah’s addition to the Lions was clearly a boon for her teammates, she believes they have given her just as much in return. Noah described the team as a sisterhood.
“Sure, we have moments where we are at each other’s throats about something one of us may have done wrong but the it is not too long before we make up and start cutting up with each other,” Noah said.
Noah’s impact on the Lions is not limited to her humor and lightheartedness. On Jan. 21, she won her third ASUN Conference Newcomer of the Week award. Noah has played a vital role in the team’s ability to create mismatches with opposing defenses due to her speed, height, and range with the ball.
Her three-point shot seems to be her greatest strength, as she used it efficiently to score a career-high 26 points on Jan. 6 against Jacksonville University. She ended the game 4 of 8 from beyond the three-point line.
Do not expect Noah to be the first person to tell you how vital she is to the team, however, as she is known to be incredibly humble and unable to realize how vital she is to the team. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have big goals for the rest of her time at UNA.
“Right now, I am focused on winning a championship and making a WNIT run with the rest of the team to represent the team and university,” Noah said.
The Lions women’s basketball team plays at home on Feb. 24 and Mar. 2 as they finish out their 2019-20 regular season and prepare for the ASUN Conference Tournament that runs Mar. 7-15.