loren Eric Swanson: My Future Son-in-Law

Saturday, March 04, 2006

My Future Son-in-Law

Olson helped set the table at N. Colorado
Former FHS athlete endured lots of losing while Bears made transition to Division I
By Chris Shelton, Camera Sports WriterMarch 4, 2006

Erik Olson spent his college career helping the Northern Colorado men's basketball program pave new territory. And he gladly felt every bump in the road along the way. At the very least, he became well acquainted with the road. Last season, the Bears played five consecutive road games from Dec. 9-19 at New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, Utah State and Montana State. They also went to Syracuse and Gonzaga that year.

This season, the Bears played 17 of their 29 games away from home and made stops at places such as Kentucky, California, Oregon State, Kansas, Northwestern and Nebraska. "We had some wicked road trips," Olson said. "We had some 15- or 16-day road trips where we would come back for one night in between." But Olson isn't complaining as he reaches the end of his road.
The former Fairview standout in basketball and baseball saw his collegiate career come to an end a week ago. Olson will graduate this May with a degree in business marketing having averaged 28 minutes, 7.6 points and 5.1 rebounds over his four-year career. He became the first person in program history to notch more than 850 points, 550 rebounds, 150 assists and 120 steals. "I had a great time here," Olson said. "I learned a lot, basketball-wise and in life — how to handle tough situations, and I met a lot of great people."

In helping Northern Colorado make the four-year transition from Division II to Division I, Olson started 87 of the 112 games he played in and shot 46.9 percent from 3-point territory. With a 3.54 GPA, Olson this week was named to the Division I Independent men's basketball All-Academic team, which includes only 12 players.

The Bears struggled to a 8-21 record two seasons ago and a 5-24 mark this season. After playing an independent schedule during the transition, Northern Colorado will join the Big Sky Conference next season. "These last couple of years have been the hardest the program will see," Olson said. "Getting through that, laying the groundwork for being in a conference next year, will help them in the future."

Of all the places Olson played, Gonzaga was his favorite.
"We played Colorado in Boulder my sophomore year and when we played there, places like that seemed huge," Olson said. "But it was nothing compared to Syracuse. ... As far as atmosphere, Gonzaga didn't have the biggest arena, but they were the craziest." When not playing basketball during the regular season, Olson hit the road again. During the summers, Olson joined up with the Fellowship of Christian Athletics for a pair of Athletes in Action tours that took him to Asia and Brazil. Olson and his teammates would play professional teams in Asia and Brazil and hold basketball camps for children. "I made a lot of great friends," Olson said. "It was a great way to grow my relationship with the Lord and to be with a bunch of guys who hold the same values and beliefs, and to play basketball. It was a great time."

Coming out of high school in 2002, Olson was one of the best two-sport athletes in the state.
He averaged 24.4 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals per game his senior year at Fairview and led the baseball team to the state tournament with a record of 7-2 and a 2.24 ERA. He struck out 57 batters in 591/3 innings that season, too. But the 6-foot-4 forward wanted to stay close to home and to attend the same college as his high school sweetheart, Kacey Swanson.

He tried to walk on to UNC's baseball team, but after hurting his shoulder didn't return to the baseball diamond, choosing instead to focus on basketball. "I don't regret any choices I made," Olson said. "I had a great time playing basketball."

Going to Greeley worked out well for Olson off the court, as well. He is engaged to Swanson and they will be married on May 27 in Boulder. "You can't say enough about Erik Olson," Fairview basketball coach Frank Lee said. "He always has a smile on his face. He has a pretty good perspective on life. He has a deep faith that has given him a lot of strength and support. ... Talk about a wonderful example and role model. He was a great one."


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