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paul olsen

Coach and professor Olsen retiring after 51 years

Legendary Augustana men's cross country/track & field head coach Paul Olsen will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Olsen, who has probably shared as many slogans as championships with his teams down through the years, and he's had plenty of both, came up with a shirt a few years back that says, "The journey is the goal."

That journey, which began at Augustana 51 years ago, is going to end after the NCAA Division III National Outdoor Track & Field Championships in late May.

However, Olsen is not just a fixture in the coaching circles but he is one of the senior-most faculty members on campus as a full professor in the Augustana English department. His classes in African American/Black Literature and the Sacred and Profane are consistently filled.

He is so well-regarded in the classroom that he has been picked by 15 different senior classes to give the "Last Lecture" in the week before graduation.

 "I have been blessed by working in what many perceive to be two very different realms of life, the academic and the athletic," said Olsen, who began his career at Augustana as the head cross country coach in 1966.

"I see it all as one. No athlete competes or trains in a vacuum. Life is complex. Sport, competition, is complex and every race or throw or jump is a consequence of how one handles that complexity. Literature and language enrich our experiences and they help to navigate us through all the complexities of our journeys."

(Read more in Athletics)


Dave Wrath, 309-794-7265

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