PEQUOT LAKES -- Her label is Pequot Lakes head girls' track and field coach, but labels don't begin to describe Molly Olson's job.
Just because she's the girls' coach doesn't mean she's just coaching girls. Olson's track and field past and her knowledge of sprinting, hurdles and relays have given her the ability to help with the boys' team as well.
From Prairie Farm, Wis., Olson went to state her junior year in the hurdles. She injured herself in gymnastics as a senior, which kept her out of competition, but she never lost the love of the sport.
When she student taught at Como Park High School she helped with the track and field team, and when she first came to Pequot as a math teacher in 1997 she continued with her volunteer work.
"It wasn't paid, I was just helping out," said Olson. "This year they hired me to be the head girls' coach. I've been working with sprinters, hurdlers and relays -- all that kind of stuff."
She's also the danceline coach, which almost interfered with her becoming the track coach.
"Danceline is supposed to be a one-season sport," Olson said. "It ends up being a year-round commitment because you have tryouts, all these people asking you to do parades and things like that. So it ends up being a really big commitment.
"My husband was kind of worried about me taking the job, but I really love working with the kids."
Olson wasn't bad in sports herself, and if she hadn't injured herself, there's no telling how far she might have gone.
"When I went to college at Hamline (University in St. Paul), they have a really excellent gymnastics team, and I was planning on doing gymnastics in college and then the injury happened," Olson said. "Athletics have always been a big part of my life. Track was really exciting for me because individually I was very successful. Whatever you're good at you're going to enjoy and in my school, being so small, we never had teams go to state so being a state participant was a big deal."
When the track coach position opened, the Pequot Lakes administration wanted to hire a woman who could better relate to the girls and help promote the sport.
"They felt it was important for our numbers," said Olson. "We had 10 varsity girls at the beginning of the season. The numbers are low for girls and I feel it's really important to have a woman role model to show the students that it's important for girls to be involved in track."
Don't let the label or Olson's gender fool you as she's helped with the sprinters, hurdlers and relays of the boys' team that won the True Team meet.
"I'm not just the girls' coach," said Olson. "Even though I'm technically the girls' coach I also coach all the short distance.
"It's been hard for me coaching boys. They don't want to listen to me, but when it comes to the meets and they're doing well, it's awesome. Their 4x200-yard relay team is unbeaten so when they go to a meet and they do well the respect level is there.
"I've really enjoyed having guys come up to me and say, 'Hey, coach.' I have to look twice because I'm not used to that."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.