Thursday, June 12, 2014

Canada Player Profiles: Nate Olsen

Nate with Justin Fitzpatrick and Ben Gollings
Nate came to our men's team highly recommended by some of his fellow Milwaukee Barbarian teammates as well as his former college coach Todd Streeter, who touted him as the best player ever produced from University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Todd doesn't hand out such accolades freely and his glowing remarks cemented Nate's spot on our roster.

After he and I spoke more about our Stars program and played a little of "who in rugby do we mutually know" we established that I had coached against him as a player when I was coaching Northwestern University Men and that he had also played alongside several of the men that were part of an elite summer 7s team I put together for 2 years. We further had mutual friends of friends in Northern Ireland.

Keeping in the spirit of Stars giving back to the game of rugby, Nate is currently coaching at UW-Parkside which also speaks volumes as Todd has worked diligently over the years to build that team (and the NSCRO) and would only hand over the reigns to someone well qualified and passionate enough to continue its growth. He is playing his club 15s and 7s with the Milwaukee Barbarians as well as focusing on his career in the fitness world. I've sadly moved from Milwaukee to Chicago, otherwise I'd certainly train with him. Nate is a welcome addition on the pitch as an inagural member of our men's program!

Here's his story in his words:

Scoring a try rookie year at UW-Parkside
I am a crossover rugby athlete that transitioned to rugby from soccer and wrestling. I have been playing rugby since the fall of 2006. My career started after two friends (Ben Bastian – current Milwaukee Barbarian and Scott Simonsen – Parkside Alum) dragged me out to a practice at the University of Wisconsin Parkside under the infamous Coach Todd Streeter.

While at Parkside I won Rookie Of The Year in spring 2007 and Most Valuable Back in spring 2008. I also had the honor of playing with Parkside in the Chicago Cup twice, both times falling to UW-Madison in the championship. 

During the summer of 2008, I was selected for a tryout in January 2009 with Bangor RFC, a feeder program for Ulster RFC, located in Bangor, Northern Ireland by the FRU (Front Row Union) during a skills and development camp in Chicago. The selection was made by John McMurty (Owner FRU), Justin Fitzpatrick (former long-time Irish International and Ulster Prop, current USA Forwards and Serevi coach) and Jamie Turkington (Former Ulster back, Dugannon RFC and current IRFU U-18 Backline Coach). I was asked to return but declined. 

Training during a break from rugby
Upon returning home in February 2009 I spent the next spring with Parkside and joined the Milwaukee Harlequins during the summer for 7s and their first season in D1. In the fall of 2010, after numerous nagging injuries and the tragic, unforeseen accident of my great friend, mentor and well known rugby ambassador Philippe “Fiji” Leka passing (miss you my brother!) I decided to split from rugby and focus on weight training and the fitness industry. 

After a brief stint in the fitness industry that saw me start a successful personal training company and compete and place in the sport of bodybuilding, I felt it was time to hang up the hammock and throw the boots back on!

Initially, I returned to rugby to give back to the sport and help develop youth players to help further the sport of rugby in the US. I had absolutely zero intent on playing again, but after a season as assistant coach at UW-Parkside and filling in at practices for the Kenosha Vultures high school team I decided to give the sport another try. No pun intended!

I am currently a member of the Milwaukee Barbarians. On the pitch this team is comprised of the best rugby athletes in Wisconsin competing in the highest men’s club level in the state. This past season saw us place 3rd in the Midwest, one of the toughest grind-it-out divisions in the country for both men’s  and women’s rugby. Off the pitch it is also a group of some of the best guys I know and I am privileged to be playing with them.

Harborfest 7s Champions with Milwaukee Harlequins

Although I am now an active player, I am still an active coach and try to learn as much as I can about this beautiful sport so I can pass whatever knowledge I gain onto our younger generations. When my playing days are over I plan on coaching where ever I am able, preferably at the youth and high school levels.
I am thankful for this opportunity to play with Star Rugby Sevens and want to give a huge thank you to the Alberts (Nick, Zach and Mike) for their recommendation of me and Liz for everything she has done to set up this great program.  I also want to thank all of our sponsors for their contributions. 

 – Nate Olsen, Racine, WI

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Nate! I've played this game for a long time and while I'm no where near the caliber of player you are, those few times I have been fortunate to take the pitch with you have been great experiences. I have no doubt you will succeed in this opportunity, as you have in most other ventures you have challenged yourself to.