Cecilie Olsen at all times needed to work in sports activities.

An athlete rising up in Stavanger, Norway’s third-largest metropolis, she moved to Oslo 4 years in the past to get a bachelor’s diploma in public relations. A good friend instructed her that the Manglerud Star membership of GET-ligaen, the nation’s high hockey league, was searching for somebody to help with social media outreach. Olsen volunteered her companies, and for 3 seasons, she labored in a number of capacities.

She’s their normal supervisor now. At 24 years outdated. After beginning out as what quantities to a advertising intern.

Cecilie Olsen is not simply working in sports activities. She’s running a men’s skilled hockey team.

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Manglerud supervisor Bjørn Danielsen, in his 70s, determined to step down this yr. The team thought it wanted somebody youthful in the place to assist it develop and was additionally searching for somebody who would match the funds, as the Stars are one in all the league’s smaller golf equipment. They had been acquainted with Olsen. They trusted that she knew the team. They determined to suppose manner outdoors the field and employed her to change Danielsen on Nov. 1.

Her influence was felt even earlier than she formally took over: Working with head coach David Livingston, Olsen jettisoned 4 gamers from the team who had been distractions on and off the ice, in accordance to Norwegian sports activities website Nitten.no.

“I am very grateful that they considered me for this job, and I love the membership for this determination,” she instructed ESPN this week. “It shows that they’re keen to change, and so they consider in me due to what I’ve executed right here the previous three years, not as a result of I am a younger woman.”

That stated, she is a woman, running a skilled men’s team. And he or she is younger, two years youthful than John Chayka was when he was employed to take over the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and turn out to be the youngest normal supervisor in U.S. pro sports activities historical past.

We requested Olsen about her trailblazing hiring and the influence she hopes it has throughout the ocean.

ESPN: In North America, ladies are nearly by no means thought-about for participant personnel roles on men’s groups. How had been you in a position to overcome the gender biases and earn this job? Is it simply simpler, culturally, to obtain one thing equivalent to this in Norway?

OLSEN: I believe it is simpler in Norway as a result of now we have a completely different tradition. Plus, there was a lot of focus in Norway the final couple of years that ladies are able to doing the identical job as males, and it is time we give them a likelihood. Girls have been getting jobs as coaches with men’s soccer groups, and that is a big step for equality. There isn’t any motive why a woman cannot get a job on men’s groups. They only have to be good at their job.

Think about rising up and figuring out precisely what you need to do. You’re employed exhausting for it and get actually good at it. There’s only one drawback: You won’t even be thought-about for the job since you’re a woman. That is not truthful. Additionally, the hockey neighborhood in Norway, if I can name it that, is actually small in contrast to North America. This provides us in Norway a greater benefit, I’d say, because it’s simpler to get to know folks in the golf equipment and allow them to see the good job you’re keen to put in.

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ESPN: What has been the gamers’ response to having a woman as their normal supervisor? Had been there any conversations you wanted to have to calm fears or take care of preconceptions?

OLSEN: All the gamers have been optimistic. They’ve come up to me and stated they suppose it is actually cool and that they consider I’ll do a actually good job. I have been with the team for 3 years already, in order that they know me very well. I have been “one in all the guys” the final years, so there weren’t any fears or preconceptions I wanted to calm. That stated, I believe it will be harder coming in as a normal supervisor for a new team, and so they did not already know and belief me. However that is simply preconceptions, and so long as you’re good at your job, I am positive no participant would really feel uncomfortable with having a woman on their team.

At the identical time, I am positive the gamers deal with me in a different way than they’d with another person. They could select their phrases extra rigorously and hesitate to confront me about sure issues. This stuff will most likely get higher with time, as I’ll at all times commit to doing my job, irrespective of if it is robust conversations.

ESPN: I’ve at all times thought that ladies in authorities convey one thing distinctive and completely different than males: extra empathy, extra consideration of others, and so on. Is it the identical for a woman in a normal supervisor’s place? Are there belongings you supply, based mostly in your world view, that a man won’t?

OLSEN: Completely. No less than, I’d say that is true for me. Each men and women could have completely different types in management. It simply relies on the sort of particular person you’re. For me, it has been vital to give attention to the particular person, not simply the participant. This season has, till now, not been going like we hoped. Particularly in these circumstances, I consider it is vital to sit down and speak to the gamers, allow them to know they’ll belief you and let you know about issues they aren’t completely happy about or if some issues are troublesome. I would care extra about gamers’ emotions than many males would. We’re a small membership, overachieving yearly based mostly on our assets, and are recognized for the tradition in the locker room. The gamers refer to themselves as “brothers.” It is vital to give attention to this in a small membership as a result of it has to be enjoyable to go to follow on daily basis. I additionally consider that gamers will carry out higher if they’ve confidence, are completely happy and really feel prefer it’s OK to try to fail. I am satisfied specializing in the well-being of gamers will assist the team obtain higher outcomes.

ESPN: Gender apart, there’s additionally your age. Have there been obstacles since you’re 24 in incomes the respect of gamers, folks in the entrance workplace or friends?

OLSEN: No, probably not. Individuals who do not know Norwegian hockey as nicely would possibly suppose it is bizarre having a 24-year-old normal supervisor. However everybody in the membership, and other people in different golf equipment who know me, will hopefully see it as one thing optimistic. I have been with the membership for a number of years and know a lot about what is going on on, and I am undoubtedly not afraid to communicate up and let everybody know my opinion. I’ve by no means heard anybody say one thing detrimental about my job due to my age, however I am positive I am going to have a lot to show. I am decided to present everybody that age would not matter — what issues is the job I do.

ESPN: At 24, do you’re feeling you might have the expertise to run a team?

OLSEN: I haven’t got a lot of expertise in how to run a team, however over my years in sports activities, each in Manglerud Star and different internships, I’ve realized a lot from individuals who have been doing it for a number of years. I am going to do issues my manner, however I am going to even have the alternative to ask folks for assist if it is wanted. I am grateful that so many individuals let me know it is OK to ask questions and that I am not supposed to know all the pieces from the begin. The issues I do not know, I am going to be taught as I am going, and I am positive I am going to do a lot of issues completely different than the gamers are used to. I am going to give you the option to do issues my manner and make adjustments the place I need them.

ESPN: Are there benefits to being a younger government and speaking with in the present day’s gamers?

OLSEN: Completely. I talk in a completely completely different manner than the previous normal supervisor, and as I am younger, I am extra used to the manner the gamers talk. Most of the gamers are round my age, a few of them older, and we perceive one another higher in the methods we talk. I believe it is vital to talk with them a lot and allow them to know they’ll speak to you about no matter they really feel like. Younger executives would possibly perceive higher what the gamers want in the methods of communication.

As a 24-year-old, Cecilie Olsen is round the identical age as a lot of the gamers on the team she manages. That is useful when it comes to communication. Courtesy Cecilie Olsen

ESPN: Has the historical past of this second sunk in, figuring out what this job — and your success or failure — may imply to different ladies in hockey?

OLSEN: I assume it is beginning to. At first I did not give it some thought in any respect. I did not even inform my buddies about it. I simply thought of it as getting extra accountability at the membership. I have been right here for a couple of years now, so I really feel like a a part of the team. I believe that is why I did not really feel that particular to me. However now, seeing how others react, I really feel like I’ve a lot to show. A person got here up to me along with his daughters and stated, “See, women? It is doable.” That is the first time I believed, “Wow, younger women could be impressed by Manglerud Star giving me this job and be motivated to do the identical.”

With this accountability, there’ll after all be a lot of eyes on me. However I believe will probably be unfair of different golf equipment to base a determination of bringing ladies in to their team by how I do. It would not matter if it is a woman or man on this place; what issues is how they slot in and the job they do. You are able to do a horrible job as a man. It doesn’t suggest that others should not get the likelihood to strive.

However after all, some would possibly use this as an excuse to maintain women out of those positions. I hope that won’t occur, and I am going to undoubtedly be actually motivated and work exhausting to make certain I am going to do the greatest job I can do.

ESPN: There’s been speak in North America about once we’ll get ladies in the teaching ranks. I’ve at all times thought it won’t occur until there are ladies in administration positions to rent them. Would you agree?

OLSEN: Sadly, sure. I do not know why it is like that, however I believe males have tendencies to take into consideration all the pieces that might go unsuitable and never all the positives that might come from having ladies in teaching ranks. Girls perceive that they will give you the option to do the identical job as males. It is nearly giving them a likelihood to show it. I believe ladies in administration won’t have a barrier to overcome as males will in hiring ladies in teaching positions. I am positive there are such a lot of nice coaches on the market who’re ladies and will do a higher job than many males in teaching positions do, however they’re by no means given the likelihood.

I hope golf equipment will give attention to this going ahead, how vital it’s to have each women and men in these positions. I am positive it would give them benefits, and it’ll add new dimensions to the groups that they have not had earlier than. Groups want to notice we’re in 2018, not 1918, and rent whoever they suppose is greatest for the job, leaving the gender query out of it.

ESPN: Clearly, every time anybody breaks via a barrier equivalent to this, there’s stress to succeed. Success means different groups would possibly observe in hiring ladies or youthful executives. Failure may imply somebody would not get this opportunity till years later. Do you’re feeling this stress?

OLSEN: Sure, I do. However I hope my profession won’t outline different golf equipment’ willingness to rent ladies or younger executives. We must be previous these questions a very long time in the past, however sadly, we’re not. Golf equipment would take a likelihood, like Manglerud Star is doing with me, and in the event that they need assistance, you will be there to help them. If it succeeds, you will have nice assets for a few years ahead, and you may most likely get new and vital methods of doing issues. I strongly encourage golf equipment to commit to hiring ladies or younger executives. I am positive they’re going to have nice, new methods of considering. Hockey will not be a “boys membership.”

ESPN: Lastly, do you might have any message to ladies in the U.S. or Canada who need to get into managerial roles?

OLSEN: Initially, go for it! If you happen to’re like me, a true sport fanatic, stepping into a managerial position can be good. It is a lot of exhausting work, however I take pleasure in each single day. There’ll at all times be occasions the place you get detrimental feedback simply due to your gender, not the job you do, and it is not truthful that you will have to show your self greater than males do. Sadly, that is how society nonetheless is, however I actually hope this by no means causes you to surrender. If that is one thing you need to do, go at it with all of your coronary heart, and by no means let anybody let you know that a job like this is not for you. Ask groups in case you can come and be taught from them, ask questions, and listen to how they’ll do issues higher.

It won’t be a simple job, however if you would like a managerial position, I consider it is vital that the groups get to know you and perceive how a lot you might have to supply. Additionally, I hope you at all times observe your dream and by no means let anybody let you know that this is not for you!

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