The transition from one head coach to a new one can be easy or tough, depending on how quickly and how well the new one gets to know the returning players.
In that case, the transition for new Ottawa boys soccer coach Kevin Olesen should be a breeze.
Familiarity will not be a problem for Olesen, an Ottawa Class of 2000 alumnus and lifelong soccer devotee who has been named to succeed longtime Pirates mentor Jeff Davis in that post.
Olesen not only played at Ottawa and has intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the program’s daily routine, but since has put in well over a decade coaching in the Shepherd Middle School and the OHS boys and girls programs.
“I’m super excited,” Olesen said. “I’ve been with the soccer program at Ottawa for a number of years now, in all for about the last 13 years. … I’m happy to have worked with the guys so far. That’s the great thing about being an assistant is that you get to see them at a young age, get to train them, work with them and develop them into the players they can be for the varsity system.
“It’s been a great experience, and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to assume a little more responsibility and continue with the program into the future.”
An Ottawa native born and raised, Olesen was always encouraged to be active. At that time, there was no Ottawa youth soccer program, so his introduction to soccer came from playing in elementary school, summer camps and “making the most of every opportunity I could to play.”
He later played at Shepherd, then “really enjoyed my time” playing at OHS for four years when the program was run by Bob Davis. Though his academic career at IVCC and Illinois State University did not include the sport, Olesen stayed active playing in community leagues.
When he returned to Ottawa, he began coaching with the boys soccer program in 2009, while helping out with various other sports in the spring until there was an opening with the girls program in 2014.
“Now I’m kind of year-round involved with both programs,” Olesen said. “Soccer has been a big part of my life for so long, and I’m super thrilled to get the chance to continue that passion and see where it takes us moving forward.”
While Olesen’s “wheelhouse” as a player and now coach remains at the offensive end, he believes he has cultivated a more balanced, “all-field” approach to the game.
“I believe it’s about getting the right guys in the right positions, because when you do that, all the pieces fall into place,” he said. “Soccer is a whole team sport, and there are a lot of moving pieces. Often times players have the misconception that because they’re a defensive player means that they have only a specific area of the field to cover. We’re trying to break those beliefs and make them see the bigger picture.
“Overall, my philosophy is to train the guys to make them the best individual and team players they can be, and hopefully the pieces will fall into place and the system works.”
Olesen inherits a small but experienced senior class led by the likes of Ethan Cela, Adam Gross, Owen Phillips and Landon Thorsen, plus letterwinners Jaxon Damron, Alexander Houk, Ryan Dietrich, Miguel Rodriguez, Alan Sifuentes and Brady Wentz.
“We’ve had an outstanding last couple of seasons, and it was exciting to be a part of that,” Olesen said. “Obviously Gio [Resendez, The Times Boys Soccer Player of the Year) had a profound impact on the program as a player and person, but a player like him is not going to be as successful without the pieces around him. Though we won’t have Gio and the rest of those seniors, we still have a lot of talent in our system.
“I’m very confident that the guys we have back will step up to the challenge, and we will have success going forward.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle