Pilots in the Spotlight: The Olinger Connection

By The Beacon | February 7, 2012 9:00pm

Freshman basketball player Colleen “Philly” Olinger and her brother, Vice President of Student Affai

Colleen Olinger (Photo courtesy of portlandpilots.com)

By Kyle Cape-Lindelin, Staff Writer -- capelind13@up.edu

What was it like being brother and sister growing up 13 years apart?

Gerry: Well, Colleen was only five when I went to school at Notre Dame, so every time I came home to visit she was always my baby sister. Getting to spend time with her now is just a constant reminder that she's her own woman now and can really take care of herself.

Colleen: Yeah, I've definitely changed and matured a lot since he first left. This is the first time we've even lived in the same state in forever, so it's awesome that I know he's right across campus and I can see him anytime I want. He's always taking me out and showing me around Portland.

How did Colleen decide to come to UP?

Gerry: She really decided to come here on her own and just fell in love with UP the same I way I did. I really don't think I had any influence or pressured her to come at all.

Colleen: Well, I've always said that I don't know if I'd be here at UP if it wasn't for Gerry. I never even heard about UP until he started working here. But yes, I was very attracted and fell in love with the small campus life and community as well as the opportunity to walk onto the basketball team.

What is your favorite thing about UP?

Gerry: Just the complete sense of community you feel when you're here. As an outsider, I completely fell in love with it when I was the hall director at Villa Maria two years ago and now I'm the pastoral resident for Kenna, so I can also see how many different communities this school has.

Colleen: I agree, I feel really accepted here, everyone is so nice. I was really attracted to the private Holy Cross tradition as well since I've been going to Catholic schools all my life.

How would you guys describe each other?

Gerry: Colleen is a total gym rat. It feels like she has always played basketball because our mom coached, our dad was an athletic director, our oldest sister Kelly played Division III basketball at Gwynedd-Mercy College in Philadelphia and the middle sister Natalie coaches as well. I really didn't influence her on basketball at all. I'm not good at sports (laughs); I'm lucky to run a half marathon.

Colleen: Yes! (laughs) Gerry is very "book smart" to put it nicely, it's pretty entertaining when he joins us for a pickup game. But he's great at what he does and you really can never take that smile off his face. He's always around and willing to help anyone.

How did the "Philly" nickname for Colleen come about?

Gerry: She gets commented a lot for her accent and since her jersey number is 11 she can use the two L's as her number.

Colleen: Korey (current men's basketball sophomore guard Korey Thieleke) gave me that nickname after I told him I'm from Philadelphia and everyone picked up on it. I'm always getting called out for how I have an accent for some words. I'm trying to keep it though because it's my roots and I don't want to be like Gerry who lost his a long time ago (laughs).

What do you miss most about Philadelphia?

Gerry: Probably my parents and family. I'm more used to it than Colleen because I've spent more time on my own, but we have such a close family it's hard to be so far away. We really relish any opportunity where we can all be together.

Colleen: Philly has always been home so it is hard being away from everybody. We have two nieces and a nephew who are all under four. I think I miss them the most; I spoil them good. We try to Skype the family back home at least once a week so we can still see the kiddies.

Fr. Gerry Olinger (Jackie Jeffers | The Beacon)