Kathy Olivier served as head coach of the Bruins from May 3, 1993 to March 11, 2008. The former standout player at Cal State Fullerton and UNLV helped to produce two Pac-10 Players of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, a Pac-10 team championship, a Pac-10 Tournament Championship and a trip to the Elite Eight. From 1998-2000, she guided UCLA to a school-best three-straight NCAA tournament appearances. In her last 11 seasons as head coach, Olivier guided the Bruins to seven top-four Pac-10 conference finishes, a total bettered by just one other conference foe.
Interest in UCLA women's basketball took off to new levels under Olivier. The only regular season crowds in Bruin history of over 7,000 fans came out to support the Bruins during her tenure. In fact, the top 15 regular season crowds in school history came with Olivier at the helm.
Recognized as a top-notch recruiter, she steadily built the program to reflect her own positive, upbeat and outgoing personality. In her 15 seasons as UCLA head coach, Olivier posted a 232-208 overall mark. Her teams favored a running game on offense, but defense was another Olivier strong point. Seven of the all-time school top 10 marks for lowest opponent field percentages belonged to Olivier-coached squads.
In 2008, forward Lindsey Pluimer was selected as the Pac-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year and earned honorable mention AP All-America honors, as well as first-team All-Pac-10 acclaim. UCLA's win over second-ranked Stanford marked the program's first win ever over an opponent ranked higher than fourth in the AP poll. On the season, the Bruins limited opponents to a .382 shooting percentage, third-lowest in school history. The opponent's scoring average of 66.3 points per game ranked as the fourth-lowest. In mid-season, UCLA limited nine straight opponents to 65 points or under in regulation time which was the longest such stretch in school history since the 1974-75 team held its first 21 opponents to 63 or less. The team played USC before 8,013 fans, the fourth-largest home crowd in Bruin history.
In 2007, Noelle Quinn became the first Bruin to total at least 1,700 points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists. Quinn, who earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors for a third season, finished her career ranked fourth on the all-time scoring list, eighth on the all-time rebound list and seventh on the assist list. Pluimer, who joined the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club, and Quinn each earned Academic All-District honors.
Olivier's 2006 squad finished the season strong, placing third in the Pac-10 regular season standings and then winning the Conference Tournament for the first time with wins on consecutive days over California, Arizona State and Stanford. The Arizona State victory gave Olivier her 200th career win. The Bruins advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 21-11 record. Olivier coached three AP and WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-Americans in Quinn, Nikki Blue and Lisa Willis. The trio also earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, Quinn and Willis' second and Blue's fourth, which made her just fifth four-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection in conference history. Blue became the first Bruin player to lead the Pac-10 in assists, while Willis, the Pac-10 Tournament MVP, led the league in steals for the third-straight season. Quinn ranked third in the Pac-10 in scoring and second in rebounding. UCLA's 10-2 record in Pauley Pavilion (.833) was the highest home court winning percentage posted by a Bruin team since the 1980-81 squad went 15-2 (.882).
In 2005, Blue garnered her third straight first-team All-Pac-10 honors, and Willis earned first-team recognition for the initial time. However, the Bruins lost Quinn, the leading scorer and rebounder at the time, to a knee injury midway through the season and finished sixth in the Pac-10 after posting non-conference wins over then-No. 4 ranked Texas and then-No. 14 Purdue. Quinn earned honorable mention all-conference, and Pluimer was named to the all-conference freshman team. The team set a school record for free throw shooting percentage (.717) and allowed opponents what was then the fourth-lowest shooting percentage in school history (.400).
In 2004, Olivier's Bruins earned a NCAA Tournament berth and finished with a 17-13 overall record and a third-place Pac-10 finish. The team boasted the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Quinn, and a pair of All-Conference performers in Quinn and Blue. A third player, Willis, earned honorable mention all-conference honors after leading the league in steals and made three-point shots. The Bruin team surrendered just 63.8 points per game, the third-lowest opponent scoring mark ever. The team played its final home game of the season, a win over USC, before 8,094 fans, the third-largest crowd in school history.
Olivier led the 2003 Bruins to 12 conference victories, a total surpassed by only two other seasons in UCLA history. The 12 wins included five on the road, a total bettered by only one other school that season. Her team set a then school record for free throw shooting (.716), and Blue became just the seventh freshman player in conference history to be named to the first-team All-Pac-10 team. Michelle Greco joined Natalie Williams and Rehema Stephens as Bruins who have led the Pac-10 in scoring in multiple seasons.
In 2002, Olivier guided a team which lost its two leading scorers during the season to the quarterfinal round of the Pac-10 tournament. The team finished with what was then the sixth-best defensive shooting percentage in school history at .413. In 2001, she guided a team which was playing without eight of its top nine scorers from the previous season to a winning record at home in Pac-10 play and to wins over two nationally-ranked opponents. Greco became the fourth Bruin to lead the Pac-10 in scoring and was named first-team all-conference.
Olivier's 2000 squad earned a NCAA Tournament berth for the third straight year and set a home attendance mark with an average of over 3,700 fans. The team battled injuries and a schedule which saw them tangle with three of the eventual Final Four teams and two others which advanced to the Elite Eight. Maylana Martin became the second-leading scorer in Bruin history during the year, and Janae Hubbard and Marie Philman each became members of the 1,000-point club. Martin also became just the third player in Pac-10 history ever to be named to the all-conference team for four-straight seasons.
In 1999, Olivier guided her team to the school's first-ever Pac-10 Conference championship and a best-ever Elite Eight finish in the NCAA tournament. A 26-8 record marked UCLA's first back-to-back 20-win seasons since a three-peat in the 1977-79 campaigns. The 26 wins were the most by a Bruin team since the 1981 squad went 29-7 and the third-highest in school annuls. The team set a school and conference record for shooting percentage in a game (.695) and went on to shoot .476 for the season, the best mark since 1984. The final ranking of No. 7 in the nation was the highest ever for a UCLA team in the USA Today coaches poll and the best finish in any poll since a similar ranking in the Associated Press poll in 1981. Olivier created such a positive buzz around her team that an all-time school record crowd of 9,530 was on hand for the home win over USC.
In 1998, she directed a Bruin team which featured two Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year to the school's best-ever conference finish at the time (second, 14-4) and the best winning percentage (20-9, .690) in 17 seasons. It was the first 20-win season for a Bruin team since its last NCAA team won 21 in 1992. The season also marked the first time a Bruin team had been ranked in the regular season Associated Press poll for more than a week's time since 1982-83.
Martin, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1997 and the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1999, became just the third Bruin to score a total of over 1,000 career points after just two years. LaCresha Flannigan, 1996 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Erica Gomez and Martin each earned first-team all-conference honors in 1999. In addition to these fine players, as an assistant coach, Olivier had been instrumental in landing All-Everything two-sport standout Natalie Williams, recognized as the Pac-10's Athlete of the Decade in a 1996 vote of conference officials. Williams also brought home a gold medal as a member of the USA Women's Basketball team in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
The dynamic Bruin coach originally joined the UCLA staff in the summer of 1986. In her seven seasons as an assistant, the team enjoyed five winning years and reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the final four years. In 1991-92, the Bruins compiled a record of 21-10 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Olivier began her coaching career at her alma mater, UNLV, as a graduate assistant in 1981-82. Following one season at UC Irvine (1982-83), she was hired at USC and was on the Trojan staff for three years (1983-84 through 1985-86) as an assistant. USC, led by sophomore Cheryl Miller, won the NCAA title in Olivier's first year (1984) and reached the championship game in her third season (1986).
The former Kathy Ricks, Olivier was a standout player at Cal State Fullerton and then at UNLV. As a freshman (1977-78) at CSF, she averaged 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds her first season and raised her scoring average to 19.3 as a sophomore. As a junior (1979-80) at UNLV, she earned All-America honors while averaging a team-high 16.3 points and 5.7 rebounds. In her final year (1980-81), she led the Rebels in scoring (20.2) and ranked second in rebounding (9.2). Olivier played high school basketball at Valencia HS in Placentia, CA.
Olivier comes from an accomplished athletic family. Her sister Mary Ricks played on UCLA's national championship softball teams in 1984 and 1985, and her brother Tom Ricks played on USC's baseball team from 1975-77. Olivier coached her daughter Alexis in 2007 and 2008.