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Olsen, George
General
Class of: 1974

 

George Olsen was an icon in the city of Coalinga for forty-two years as a coach and athletic director. Travel to Coalinga today and you will see George E. Olsen City Park dedicated in 1981. Olsen was a Kansas native and moved from Emporia State University in Kansas to Fresno State in 1923. He was a member of J. Flint Hanner's first Bulldog track and field squad and was chosen captain in 1926. Olsen admitted that he never was proficient in any event, but managed to win points in the high jump, shot put, and a few running events. His coaching tenure at Coalinga began in 1926 after his graduation from Fresno State. Olsen compiled an impressive record while at various times coaching the school's football, baseball, basketball, track, and tennis squads. Olsen coached in an era when there were Class A, B, and C teams. His Class B football team won nineteen games in a row. His track teams took eighteen league titles and twelve ABC County championships. He was an official in the first Fresno WestCoast Relays in 1927, working that meet and several other top relay meets until his retirement in 1968. He was affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Association for forty years as an official and Coach. Olsen said his biggest thrill was as a coach and leader of the 1958 Five-Man All-Star United States track team consisting of Olympians: Arnie Sowell, Glen Davis, Rink Babka, Jim Brewer, and Don Bowden. Together, the team competed on a seven-week tour of Norway, Denmark. Sweden, and Finland. He said Davis, a 400-meter hurdler the greatest competitor he ever met. George E. "Swede" Olsen died in 1975.

Honoring the Past
Celebrating the Present
Inspiring the Future