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Olson deserving of Pendill Wall of Excellence inclusion

We can’t think of a more deserving individual to have his name added to the A. Felch Pendill Wall of Excellence at Marquette Senior High School than Jeff Olson, a 1981 MSHS graduate who went on to become one of the most successful high school coaches in state history.

Olson’s coaching exploits are legendary. He coached for 37 years in three sports including 27 years at Ishpeming High School where he lead the football team to three championships as well as two runner-up finishes and many conference, district and regional championships. Olson was named to the Michigan Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was awarded multiple state Coach of the Year and Upper Peninsula Coach of the Year awards, a Mining Journal story on the matter indicated.

All of that said, it can be argued that his greatest accomplishment has been educating the public about suicide as a result of a medical illness after his son and a standout student-athlete, Daniel, died by suicide in 2012 after battling anxiety and depression for years.

“When somebody comes up to you and says, ‘You saved my child’s life,’ or ‘You helped my family more than you’ll ever know’ or ‘This is the first time somebody finally understood what I’m going through and I’m going to get help,’ that’s what life’s about,” Olson said in receiving the accolade. “That’s what this honor’s about.”

Added Carolyn McDonald, MAPS Education Foundation Selection Committee chairwoman: “The Pendill Wall is a great reminder to the students of the people that have come before them, and maybe we’ll inspire some of them to be on this wall someday.”

On the field and off, we don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say Olson has saved lives and changed lives. He deserved this honor.