A Former Player's Tribute to Gary Olson

Dr. Ray Pritchard

In the post just below this one, I mention Gary Olson who died in 1999. He has been on my mind lately because I received an email from a young man who wanted a picture he could use on a Facebook page created for former Oak Park-River Forest (IL) football players. When I realized that I didn’t have any digital pictures of Gary, I scanned this photograph and sent it to him.

I mention this because I was struck by what the young man wrote. His words testify to the impact that a godly coach can have:

“Coach Olson was a great man, he impacted many lives, he brought me to Christ, he helped me to become a man of God today. After high school I coached football and basketball just like coach because I wanted to help change kids lives, just like he did. Coach Olson taught me about the Bible and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, which helped me graduate from college, which was a challenge because I have a learning disability but whenever I got discouraged I would put on that tape (of a message Gary gave) and open up my Bible and my strength was renewed. Right now I’m going back to school to get my teacher certification so I can teach and become a full time coach and maybe help run the Fellowship of Christian Athletes just like coach Olson.”

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