Olivia Grgicevich Lassey, a talented basketball player from New Zealand, proudly embraces her Croatian and Māori heritage. Recently chosen for the U17 New Zealand team, Olivia participated in the NBA Global Women’s Academy Games in Atlanta, Georgia after being selected from the basketball without borders Asia Pacific camp. Her multicultural background is deeply intertwined with her journey in sports. Olivia’s strong connection to Croatia is evident in her family’s dedication to preserving their Croatian heritage. She also cherishes her Māori roots and shares her cultural background through her pepeha, a way of introducing oneself in Māori. Olivia expresses her gratitude for being born into two beautiful countries and emphasizes her passion for sports and strong family values.
Olivia’s sporting journey initially began with football, but she later found more opportunities in basketball, which allowed her to play both winter and summer seasons. She had the privilege of learning from some of New Zealand’s best coaches, who instilled in her the importance of hard work and self-belief. Through their guidance, Olivia achieved success in various competitions and was selected for the U17 New Zealand team. Her experiences also included participating in the NBA Asia Basketball Without Borders tournament in Abu Dhabi, where she had the opportunity to meet NBA coaches and players. These experiences not only marked significant milestones in her basketball career but also allowed her to form close bonds with players from around the world.
Following her exceptional performance at the NBA Asia Basketball Without Borders tournament, Olivia was chosen as one of ten athletes to participate in the NBA Women’s Academy Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Representing a diverse group of players, Olivia’s team overcame language barriers to emerge victorious in the women’s division. This event, sponsored by Nike, showcased the power of sports as a universal language.
Throughout 2023, Olivia achieved several milestones in her basketball career, including winning her regional school basketball league and playing in international tournaments. She has hopes of securing a scholarship to study environmental engineering and continue playing basketball in the United States or Croatia. Olivia expresses her gratitude for the support and commitment of her parents, coaches, referees, and volunteers in her sporting journey, recognizing the impact they have had on her success.