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Mukilteo , Washington
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June 24, 2020     Mukilteo Beacon
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June 24, 2020 Coach left lasting legacy with students, athletes Longtime Mariner teacher Jim Olsen died in April By DAVID PAN REPORTER@YOURBEACON.NET Those who knew Jim Olsen well have no doubt that he bled Mariner blue and gold. When daughter Lisa Morris first started teaching many years ago, she was substitut- ing at Mariner High School. Once students found out who her father was, they sought Morris out. "I cannot tell you how many students ap— proached me, saying that my dad was their favorite teacher,” said Morris, who is now a counselor at Olympic V1ew Middle School. “At the time, it didn’t register, but looking back it was hundreds. They always said the same thing — ’He's so nice and funny.’ That was my dad, a lesson with a touch of hu— mor.” Olsen, 79, died due to natural causes April 8 in Bellingham. He was survived by wife Lynda, sisters Gail and Karen, daughter Lisa and son Craig. Olsen’s first wife, Diane, preceded him in death in 1986. Before coming to the Mukilteo School District, Olsen taught at Monroe and A1— derwood junior high schools. In 1984, he accepted an English teaching position at Explorer Middle School and also took over the Mariner High School freshman football team. He later joined the Mariner teaching staff in 1992 and continued coaching until he retired in 2007, though he was a substi- tute teacher for a few more years. Former Mariner head coach John On- driezek credits Olsen for helping to establish the Marauder football program. "Our freshman program to me was the foirndation of our success, the key to our success,” Ondriezek said. “He recruited kids to come out‘. He taught them how to be student-athletes, how to be good, funda- mental football players, how to believe in themselves and how to be excited to be members of the varsity program." But Olsen's concern for students went far beyond the gridiron. He and Ondriezek worked together to establish the Blue and Gold Fund 25 years ago. The fund provides assistance to all students at Mariner High School, helping with athletic and testing ex- penses, food, clothing and other needs. As a tribute to Olsen, the- name was changed to the Jim Olsen Blue and Gold Fund. The Olsen family requests that re— membrances be made to the fund: http:// www.venmo.com/JimOlsenBlueAndGold. It will come as no surprise that Olsen of- ten provided support to students behind the scenes. 1' “He just personally helped kids," On— driezek said. "A number of times he talk- ed kids into coming out for football. They BEACON NEWSPAPER Between the 1st — 10th of each month Photo courtesy of the Olsen family Jim Olsen was a longtime teacher and coach at Mariner High School. didn’t have money for a physical or money to buy athletic shoes." Olsen directed them to the Blue and Gold Fund or he simply reached in his own wal- let. “He didn’t expect any credit” Ondriezek said. Mariner teacher Tom Myhre noted that Olsen had the ability to relate vith students at Mariner, perhaps in part '0 his tough childhood. . For the first 10 years of his life, Olsen and older brother Gary lived in andout of foster homes. "He was a great mentor in that way. A lot of kids live in difficult situations and they come to Mariner from all over the world," Myhre said. “His heart was as lig as he was. He would do anything to help a kid out.” Because he knew what it was to be hun— gry, Olsen never wanted any child to feel that way. I "If a student didn’t have enough essentials at home, he and his wife would make sure they had what they needed,” Morris said. “If a student needed a ride, he and his wife would give them one. lf a student needed a home, my dad would make sure they had one.” The energy and drive that Olsen pos- sessed when he was coaching football also extended to the classroom. Myhre and O]- sen shared many of the same sudents. “He was passionate about poetry and writing, as he was about fooball," Myhre said. "He used that same pasion to help kids in the classroom.” . Olsen often sought out the hy or over- looked student in class. He right share a poem or story about his life. later, Myhre . would walk by the classroom and see 01 see page l2 } Community Sports Mukilteo Beacon 1‘1 Honoring Mariner’s spring senior athletes ‘ James Smith earned 12 varsity letters in high school career BY DAVID PAN REPORTER@YOURBEACON.NET James Smith was looking forward to wrapping up his four—year athletic career at Mariner High School. The senior standout had trained hard for the upcoming track and field season. "I knew I had made a lot of progress going into the season," said Smith, who ran in the 800- and 1,600-meter races and the 4—by-4OO relay. "Time-wise, I was in good shape.” Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, caus- ing the closure of schools throughout the state. Days turned into weeks and eventu- ally the spring season was canceled. Just like that Smith’s high school athletic 1 career was OVCI‘. "It felt like it was ripped away,” he said. What was not ripped away were the accomplishments of one of the Marauders' top athletes. Though he never had the opportunity to run a final race, Smith was awarded a varsity track and field letter. That meant Smith finished with a total of 12 varsity letters at Mariner — four in cross country, four in swimming and four in track and field. “I didn’t know about that,” Smith said of his remarkable accomplishment. "It was surprising.” Athletics played an integral role through— out Smith's high school life. "Sports definitely were important be- cause I love being in shape,” he said. “It gave me a lot to do. It helped me with my grades." Smith said that he had added motivation to maintain a good CPA at school in order to compete in sports. Coming into Mariner as a freshman, Smith was known as a runner. By the time he left, swimming had become his favorite sport, even though he never swam com— petitively prior to his arrival at Mariner. Last Friday, Smith and many of his fellow seniors had an opportunity to step onto the Mariner campus one more time, as they donned their caps and gowns to pick up their diplomas. Smith is hoping to join the Marine Corps and become a member of the Special Forces. "I've had an interest in the military and in serving my country," Smith said. Other spring _ senior standouts Kenny Goodwin, a three—year returning see page 12 Megai Martin is a junior this year and tls is her third year playing Varsitygolf. She is the team’s must we ' ~ . wiuufij Egfimgfita experienced player, having played in stae last year as a sophomore. Megar has excellent leadership skills and is always vanting to help other players on the team. This '5 one of the-many reasons she was chosen as one of the captains of the team. Megan is multitalented, she is an excellent student and has been a three. year member of the band, is active in dance and she sings in her dad's band! Megan will have a great year next year and will lead the team to state! Megan Martin Girls Golf Kids Dentistry Photos courtesy of Mukilteo School District Above: Mariner’s James Smith picks up his di- ploma. Smith earned 12 varsity letters through- out his high school athletic career. Below, Mari- ner’s Kenny Goodwin was poised for a breakout senior season for the boys golf team when the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools. What he missed the most was working with his teammates. "The highlight of my athletic career would have to be just being able to help others learn the game,”Goodwin said. at mix/Mukilteo lomtian Call Us to Make an Al’l’OlN’l'MliN'l‘ 028i)”i'lit-rslinpur‘gmzlShaun olemrlu-i-slmpxmn