Oliver Bowman, affectionately known as Olly, is a 21-year old high-achieving basketballer both on and off the court.
Between taking advantage of remote learning to explore the world, running an online business, and producing content for his TikTok account boasting over 155K followers – it’s safe to say he’s doing well for himself.
Jack of all trades
One thing that has underpinned Bowman’s success to date is his passion for basketball. Having grown up as an avid lover of cross country, athletics, and surfing, discovering the orange and black striped ball at 9-years-old was something he connected with almost immediately. Three years and a close call later, Olly began his representative journey.
“I tried out for reps in the U12’s, and only just made it. I’ve played it ever since, representing my club, New South Wales, and have travelled to America playing in various Amateur Athletic Union tournaments.”
In his final year of high school at St Luke’s Grammar, like all our Elite Athlete Program (EAP) Scholarship holders, Olly was faced with the decision of what institution he wanted to continue his tertiary education at.
“Apart from it being relatively close to home, Sydney University is one of the best universities in Australia. I had heard about the plans to grow the basketball culture and program and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Zero to one hundred
The basketball program as we know it today didn’t exist in 2019. The headlining event for ballers back then was Nationals – a 1-week tournament that took place once a year. Outside of that, there wasn’t much happening.
“Over the past 2 years there has been a complete 180 shift in focus, coaching, and the culture for basketball at Sydney University. I’ve been quite lucky to have witnessed and been a part of the growth and development of it all.”
That shift, Olly talks about happened in 2020 when UniSport launched the University of Basketball League (UBL), which involves 11 universities across Australia, each represented by a men’s and women’s side. Over 8 weeks, teams battle it out all for ultimate bragging right – best varsity basketball team in the country. The UBL at Sydney University has been complemented with more social competitions and scrimmages than ever before.
“The chance to travel around Australia, weekly to play basketball was a very surreal experience, and it felt as if we were professional athletes.”
Since the inception of the UBL, Sydney University has performed extremely well. The inaugural season was reduced to a 4-game series against arch-rivals, University of Technology Sydney, due to the Covid outbreak. Playing every game like it was their last, Olly claimed the Southern Design Inter-Varsity MVP title. Fitting recognition for the Manly Sea Eagles junior.
In 2021 both teams secured the premiership after finishing at the top of the table. When asked what the secret sauce to the program is, Olly credits the people in charge and his teammates.
“Tommy (Men’s Head Coach), Ed Smith (Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness CEO) and all the staff have been a big reason for why everything has been put together and is organized in such a way that made all of this possible. We also have a very high standard of players on the team. Everyone clicked early on and got along, which is rare for a large group of boys like ours. Everyone plays for each other and hangs out in their spare time.”
Rise to fame
Combining his love for travel and his double degree in Arts/Advanced Studies, through our EAP, Olly headed abroad to study at the University of Georgia. As fate would have it, he met a Norwegian friend who sparked his interest in their culture. Not long after, he found himself learning the language and living in Norway for 6 months.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. Learning to speak another language was not something I imagined doing before but was one of the most eye-opening things I have done, being able to be part of a very different culture at its deepest level.”
It was here that Olly took to TikTok to share about his overseas stint, which has continued to be an absolute hit for his evergrowing fan base.
“Initially, I was only posting Norwegian content and funny observations of Norwegian culture, as a foreigner looking in; however, it has broadened the scope of my content.”
One step ahead
With graduation on the cards this year, Olly has already begun preparing for his future. In 2020, alongside his sister, Lily, they launched their online business, BWMN which is their last name without the vowels. Clever, right?
“Both my sister and I are certified personal trainers and are very passionate about health in general and moving our bodies. We loved the idea of an online business, in terms of the flexibility and freedom it provides. BWMN Active combines these two factors. Working together allows us to merge our skillsets and impact a larger group of people.”
So how does he do it all? Olly believes what he’s learnt throughout his sport and degree has placed him in good stead for all he’s achieved to date.
“Basketball required me to have time-management skills, discipline and the ability to work in a team, which has assisted my approach to business. Of course, my degree has helped me a lot too. The most significant areas being negotiation, understanding the digital landscape and overall business functions.”
With an entrepreneurial, go-getting spirit like Olly’s, his future looks promising.
When asked what’s next, it’s simple. “Continue to grow BWMN Active, play basketball and explore more international cultures.”
The great thing is, he’s already living this out.
Oliver Bowman. Remember the name.