Ian Olson’s Balancing Act

The typical college student will reluctantly go to class, do their homework when they’re supposed to and hang out with friends in their free time. The typical student-athlete also does all of this, and will practice and work out every day on top of it.

Such a relaxed schedule is not typical for one Marist sophomore.

Meet Ian Olson: number 14 on the Men’s Club Ice Hockey team as well as a Cadet in the Army ROTC Ram Battalion Charlie Company at Marist College. If you asked him three years ago, Olson would not have mentioned either of these things as something he would be pursuing in the future.

Olson began playing hockey when he was just five-years-old. He played on travel teams all the way up until junior hockey in high school. Since he started playing the sport, he was forced to become accustomed to time commitment. Olson was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing soccer and lacrosse seasonally, with his travel hockey season running from August to May.

Ian Olson began playing hockey at age 5. Photo by Nick Rudzewick.

Olson is used to early ice times, long seasons and a sport that is as physically grueling as any other. However, when he graduated high school and decided to attend Dutchess Community College, he knew hockey was something he wouldn’t have a future in.

“There was a time before I decided to come to Marist that I was thinking travel hockey might be the last time I play hockey,” Olson said. There were a couple factors that brought Olson to eventually transfer to Marist — one of them was hockey coach Michael Beck.

Olson had played some travel hockey under Beck, who had reached out to Olson before he had made his decision to transfer and discussed with him the opportunity to play hockey in college. “Basically, I knew if I came to Marist I was going to play,” Olson said.

His late-blooming interest in an ROTC program was another cog in the wheel that was Olson’s transfer decision. While in community college, Olson saw many of his friends take a military route, specifically in the Marines. That inspired him to look into West Point, and eventually realize that his best opportunity would be Army ROTC at Marist.

“It was something that I was intrigued by, but never really took a step into doing anything with until I really saw what kind of opportunities it had,” Olson said.

As a Cadet in the program now, Olson sees all the benefits of pursuing a career in the U.S. Army. He cites the ability to travel as one of the overlooked factors of entering the armed forces and is looking forward to his future after Marist. Olson also just received a scholarship from the U.S. Army towards his Marist education, meaning his official contract now requires a minimum of four years of active duty post-graduation followed by four more in the reserves.

With a deep involvement in both the hockey team and Army ROTC, Olson faces a time management struggle that most students will never have to tackle. The Club Hockey season runs from September to around March, requiring frequent practices, skate times and travel time to games farther away. ROTC requires three early sessions of Physical Training every week as well as an extra class load and other assorted obligations.

“There’s very little downtime to do homework and just hang out,” Olson explained, but also stated that it is something he has been able to handle because of the discipline he has learned since high school.

Olson spoke very highly about his first season with Marist Club Hockey. He commended the seniors for their skill and leadership and attributed this year’s success to them, as the team made it to the ACHA Regional Tournament.

However, Olson sees a bright future for the squad as well, citing young talent with time to develop. “I think the next few years, we’re going to be pretty good so that’s something to look forward to,” he said.

“[Olson] leads by example and always shows his fellow cadets how to appreciate how much you can get done in any given day,” said freshman Cadet Evan Fernandez. “While having him as my team leader, I witnessed confidence, compassion and most importantly, a bright future career for him as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.”

Edited by Matt Rzodkiewicz & Meaghan Roche

*The first version of this post said Marist Club Hockey made it to the ACHA Regional Finals. The team lost in the first round of the ACHA Regional Tournament.

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