Farm Hands: The Story of Andy Olson
Sept. 13, 2008
SPOKANE, Wash. -
Editor's Note: Former Western Washington University football player Andy Olson had an outstanding 2008 season for the Spokane Shock, which had a 15-1 regular-season record, a third straight division title, a Conference Championship and an appearance in the ArenaCup. In 16 regular-season contests, Olson made 112 catches for 1,077 yards (9.6 apc) and 20 touchdowns.
In four post-season games, Olson had 28 catches for 402 yards (14.4 apc) and five touchdowns, averaging 100.5 yards per game.
Besides leading the team in receptions, Olson also set a team record in that category. His rookie numbers smashed the Shock's previous rookie records set by Charles Frederick, who played collegiately at the University of Washington. After such a successful season, Olson is currently sifting through offers he has received from AFL teams. This past season he definitely made a name for himself in Arena Football.
Farm Hands: The Story of Andy Olson
This story orginally ran in the May 17th edition of the Game Day Program.<
by Kevin Maloney, Director of Communications
Last Saturday night, Shock fans caught a glimpse of Andy Olson's character.
With just under a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Shock held a slim five point lead over their Western Division opponent, the Boise Burn. QB Nick Davila found Olson wide open on a short five-yard hitch route. Olsen broke the first tackle and sprinted toward the end zone. By the time Olson reached the one-yard line, three Burn defenders had converged on him, but they were no match for Olson's determination. His legs continued to drive forward as he dragged the three defenders until he finally broke the plane for his first score of the game.
"He's the kind of guy who will always give you 110%," Davila explained. "When we were in Fresno he dove head first into the boards but that's just the way he is--he always gives 110%."
For Olson, a Chehalis, WA native, giving 110% is nothing new. The fourth of five children, Olson grew up on a dairy farm that his father owned and operated.
"Hard work was one of the first things I learned on the farm," Olson explained. "I learned that you have to work hard to succeed at anything in life."
With an average of 300-350 cows on over 200 acres of land, there was always plenty of work to do but there was also plenty of fun for the tight-knit Olson family.
"It was a lot of fun. You work harder then 90% of the population (as a farmer) but you can have lot of fun too. There was a lot of land and we had a river right next to us so we had a lot of good times (growing up)."
Olson attended W.F. West High School in Chehalis where he excelled not only in football, but also in wrestling and soccer. He finished 6th in the state wrestling tournmant and was named first-team all-league in soccer. But for Olson, who said he has dreamed of playing in the NFL since high school, football took priority over everything else.
In his high school career, Olson compiled 66 receptions, 1,213 yards receiving, and 10 touchdowns, setting school records in all three categories. These numbers caught the attention of a few Division I schools, including Washington State University, but those offers quickly vanished after Olson suffered a MCL injury in the final game of his senior season.
"A lot of teams that had talked to me had dropped their scholarship offers and asked me to walk-on or just dropped the offer completely," Olson said. "It was just bad timing; I mean it was the last game of the year and I had a pretty good senior season and it just ruined a lot of potential opportunities."
Despite his injury, Olson accepted a scholarship offer from Western Washington University where his older brother, Lann, was a standout linebacker.
"I got to play two seasons with my brother," Olson said. "It was a lot of fun. It was a good experience. Learning from him and watching him was a lot better from the sidelines than in the stands. My sophomore year I had a pretty good year and he was a senior and he had a pretty good year so we were offensive and defensive MVP's of the team."
Olson's accolades didn't end after his sophomore season at Western. After his final season as a Viking, Olson was the school's all-time leader in touchdown catches (31), and receptions (183) and was second in receiving yardage (2,990).
While at Western, Olson also earned a reputation as a tough player. In August of 2005, Olson suffered a collapsed lung during a practice session only a few weeks before the season opener against Mesa State (Colorado). For most, playing after suffering from an injury of this severity would have been out of the question. But, then again, Olson isn't like most others.
On August 27th, Olson suited up against Mesa State and turned in a stellar performance with eight receptions, 121 yards receiving and--for good measure--a touchdown reception as well.
Off the field at Western, Olson also found another love of his life, Jessie who he began dating his senior year. Less then a year later, the two married and now have a one-year old daughter, Skyah.
"There was a period where I wasn't really sure if I was going to continue to play," Olson said. "But then out of the blue, when Skyah was about six weeks old, I got a call from the Georgia Force and that rekindled my fire and I have wanted to play ever since."
Olson spent the next six weeks with the Georgia Force on their practice squad before he was ultimately released. Soon after, Olson was picked up by the Shock.
"We thought Andy was certainly a player that we could bring in and could compete for a spot in training camp," Shackleford said. "We knew his experience (with the Force) put him ahead of some of the other guys. He's also a very smart player and he picked up our offense very quickly."
Not long after Olson earned a spot on the team, jersey assignments were given. As a Viking, Olson wore number one and hoped that he could wear a single number here in Spokane as well. That number happened to be number seven. Many Shock fans will always equate number seven with former Shock DB Rob Keefe. But for Olson, his number is just that--a number and nothing more.
"I took number seven because everyone else had already chosen their numbers," Olson said. "But it doesn't intimidate me that someone else had the number that I have this year. I'm not going to let what someone else did last year effect what I'm doing this year."
Despite being the only rookie among the Shock's starting receiving core, Olson already has 30 receptions--averaging 8.8 yards/reception--with seven touchdowns.
"With Raul on the field, doing what he does and with KD (Kelvin Dickens) as a big possession guy, Andy's the guy that teams can forget about--and you certainly can't forget about him," Shackleford explained. "He catches
the ball well, he makes plays down field and he also catches screens and breaks tackles."
Earlier this season, Olson had his best game of the year against tonight's opponent, the Tri-Cities Fever, with eight catches for 50 yards, including three touchdown receptions.
As Olson continues to grow in the offense, Assistant Head Coach Matt Sauk said that he believes Andy will be able to make it back to the AFL.
"I've already told Andy that I've been up there (the AFL) and I know that he can be a starter up there," Sauk said. "The key thing is the fact that he is getting open but one of his biggest attributes is that he gives a 110% every time."
Not even halfway through his rookie season in the af2, it appears his hard work is paying off. But then again, Olson already knew that from his days on the farm in Chehalis.
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