Prairie Profiles: Wayne OlsonPublished 9:37am Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Name a job within the Glenville-Emmons school district and there’s a good chance Wayne Olson has done it.
Olson, the activities director at Glenville-Emmons for more 31 years, has worn just about every hat there is to wear, whether it was as the head coach of the softball team to the prom adviser to the cheerleader adviser. This summer Olson will hand the reins over to one of his former football players, Craig Rayman, as Olson retires after working in the district for 42 years.
“He’s given a lot, in the form of teaching and coaching,” Rayman said. “He’s a busy person. I don’t know how he found time to do it all.”
Olson started teaching in the district in 1967 at the age of 22 after he graduated from what is now Minnesota State University, Mankato.
He grew up in Spring Grove and married Carol, his high school sweetheart. When he moved to Glenville he found it similar to his hometown and he has been in Glenville ever since.
In his 42 years he has coached everything and has found success at a surprising rate. In 1967 he started as the assistant football and junior high boys’ basketball coach. In the spring he served as the boys’ track coach. He coached the team for three seasons and won the conference championship twice.
Olson didn’t mind taking on a variety of roles because he had a chance to work with student-athletes and the student-athletes always seemed to be a good group to work with for Olson.
“The kids were pretty much the same,” Olson said. “We’ve been blessed down there, we’ve had good kids.”
He went on to be the head coach in football, wrestling and softball.
Olson experienced his most success as a head coach when he guided the softball program for 12 seasons. Six of his 12 seasons his team was undefeated in conference games.
Olson led the team to a state tournament appearance in 1982 and held the longest winning streak in the Gopher Conference with 49 consecutive victories from 1982 to 1987.
The Trojans won four district championships, were district runners-up three times and region runners-up twice. Olson finished with a 141-39 record.
“The softball was really a lot of fun because it was very successful,” Olson said. “We really had some excellent kids.”
Address: 241 Fourth St., SE, Glenville
Livelihood: activities director for Glenville-Emmons High School
Family: wife, Carol; sons Mike and Greg
Interesting fact: Wayne Olson has not missed a home football game in Glenville in 42 years.
Olson coached at the elementary level and was a coach for the football, basketball and baseball teams for more than 20 years. He also served as the junior high boys’ basketball head coach for more than 18 years.
Olson might not have had all the answers, but he was resourceful and not afraid to ask for help. Even more importantly he’s made the most of every opportunity and made it a successful venture.
“He thought a lot of the kids and put a lot of effort into it,” Rayman said.
Olson was the cheerleading adviser at one point, too. It was a job he thought he would do for a year, but he ended up as the adviser for seven.
“Don’t ask me how I got involved in that,” Olson said. “I got some help from some other people in the area. We’ve had good staff down there and that makes a difference.”
Dave Olson, no relation, worked closely with Wayne Olson for years in the district as the junior high activities director and later the superintendent. Dave said Wayne was constantly active with one thing or another.
“He always seemed to be one gear,” Dave said. “He was always moving around and seemed to be getting a lot of things done.”
Dave said Wayne took a hands-on approach to his work and was very committed to any task he accepted.
“He never seemed like he was someone who was passive,” Dave said. “He seemed very hands on with the kids. We always got a long well and communicated well.”
Wayne Olson was a social studies teacher in the district and taught history, sociology and a variety of other subjects. His focus has always been helping the kids in the school.
“He likes working with kids,” Rayman said. “He’s just passionate about that. He’s seen two generations, two and half, maybe three generations of families go through the school.”
Olson said he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as much as he did through his 42 years without the help of his wife, Carol, who did much of the behind-the-scenes work when he coached.
“Without her I couldn’t have done half this stuff,” Olson said. “She takes care of everything else. She’s the boss behind the scenes.”
Outside of the school Olson is a volunteer with the Glenville Fire Department and runs the Glenville beach during the summer.
“He wore so many hats,” Rayman said. “I don’t know how he did it, but he did a good job.”
Olson got some his greatest satisfaction from watching student athletes compete, and when he wasn’t coaching he’d rarely miss an opportunity to watch a game.
“I think the games are the fun part, watching the kids compete,” said Olson, who hasn’t missed a home football game in Glenville in 42 years. “I’ll keep going to the ballgames and stuff like that. That’s always enjoyable to watch the kids.”
Olson officially hands over the reins to Rayman Aug. 14.