Riverside-Brookfield High School boys track coach Tim Olson is going to have his hands full this summer.
Olson’s wife, Kristen, a former RBHS girls soccer coach, gave birth to the couple’s first children, twins Ryan and Mallory, on June 17, so he won’t have much free time any time soon.
But being busy is nothing new to Olson, who spent the spring guiding the Bulldogs to one of their best seasons in recent memory.
The Bulldogs won their second consecutive Metro Suburban Conference championship and finished second at the Class 3A St. Rita Sectional. RBHS sent four individuals and a relay team to the state finals.
For his efforts, Olson is the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark Coach of the Year.
“I’m flattered but I feel like of the three coaches on the staff, I firmly believe I’m the third-best coach,” Olson said. “I give all the credit to Gary Johnson and Larry Forberg. I’m the puppet; those two are the puppet-masters.”
Johnson, a former head coach at RBHS, has over 40 years of coaching experience, while Forberg heads the boys cross-country program. Olson, who just completed his fourth year at the helm, finds their assistance invaluable.
“I’ve learned a lot from them and I have a lot more to learn,” Olson said. “They should both be head coaches, but they still do all the little things for the program. Gary still repairs the hurdles and Larry carries the ice bath for the kids.”
Olson also shares credit for the award with his athletes, especially senior leaders Lewis Rogers, Gerrand Moody, Dan Curtin and Kevin Faye. Rogers and Moody qualified for state in both hurdles events, while Curtin went to state in the 1,600-meter run.
But more important than the results were the leadership skills this small but strong senior class brought to the table, epitomized by the example set by Rogers.
“He’s got a lot of things going for him,” Olson said. “We have nearly 80 kids in the program and only three coaches, so you need to have good senior leadership and he knows how to get through to the kids in a positive way. He’s going to go a long way.”
Olson believes the RBHS program is poised to go a long way in the coming years, even though that might not translate into individual medals at the state meet.
“I look forward to the time we’re scoring points downstate,” Olson said. “It’s difficult to do and that’s not going to happen next year, but it’s building up and if we can have a season like this one, that’s more important.”
Olson is a relative late-comer to the coaching profession. The former Fenwick football player went into finance after graduating from college but eventually changed careers in order to realize his dream of coaching.
The philosophy Olson brings to coaching is one of inclusiveness and perspective. He focuses not just on results but helping every kid on the team maximize his potential.
“You can’t play defense in track,” Olson said. “You’re basically running against yourself. So at the end of the day, did you go out and give your best effort? If you did, you should be happy with yourself, even if you didn’t get a [personal record].”
Like many of his athletes, Olson’s best sport wasn’t track. He ran track at Fenwick in order to stay in shape for football.
“We have a lot of multi-sport kids in our program,” Olson said. “Probably 80 percent have a better sport and for 20 percent, track is their main sport.
“We’ve got a lot of diversity. We’ve got the captain of the football team, we’ve got chess team players, we’ve got smart kids and some who struggle with school work.
“But everyone gets along and we keep it simple. Show up every day, work hard and go from there. I couldn’t rave more about the staff and kids.”