Bud OlsonBud was born and raised on the family farm, south of Chetek, Wisconsin, the oldest child of Bernard and Ruth Olson with siblings Jeff, Tony, Bart and sister Nan. Early education began at the one room Oak Grove country school.

Being a farm boy was an educational experience. Dad was a workaholic, taking pride in his crops and cows. Mom was our greatest influence with the primary goal for her children to have better lives. Early on Mom expressed the value of education and teaching as a profession. Four of us became teachers and coaches.

When athletics interfered, Mom took on our chores. Dad always said, “You better win or you might as well stay home.” (Fear of losing was a strong motivator.) From Dad I learned the value of setting goals and hard work to accomplish objectives and from Mom, caring, sacrifice, unconditional love and understanding.

The years as a “Chetek Bulldog” were fantastic! There were 4 years playing football and baseball and 3 wrestling. Lettering in baseball, as a freshman, made me the only four-year letterman in my class of 109 students. I look back on my high school years with appreciation and utmost respect for the guidance and mentorship of Mr. Stevens (baseball coach/math teacher) and Coach Hight (driver ed/football and wrestling coach). They were instrumental in my growth and development.

Freshman year I participated in football and baseball. Plans changed my sophomore year when Coach Hight caught “Bob” and I fighting during a November noon hour. He gave us options; “Go to the Principal or go out for wrestling.” I was recruited!

Chetek was the smallest school in the “Heart of the North” Conference. Wrestling was new and Coach Hight taught moves from a book. We were strong farm boys but short on knowledge. We worked at it! By the end of our senior year the “Bulldogs” were ranked 3rd in the “State’s Sweet Sixteen Poll” behind Milwaukee Pulaski and Coleman.

After graduating from high school, a Cleveland Indian scout suggested, “Playing at the college level could be beneficial in pursuing a professional career in baseball.” In college I was a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling, baseball) and graduated from UW La Crosse in 1969 with a B.S. Degree in Physical Education.

My career in Education spanned 34 years: 3 at Barneveld, 3 at Fennimore and 28 at New Lisbon. All elicited fond memories and emotional highlights; especially David vs. Goliath matchups (Big School vs. Little School). One took place as Fennimore head wrestling coach, at the “old fieldhouse” State Championships. The final match of the 1976 event appeared to be a mismatch. Goldsmith (Milwaukee South) met all the criteria for “unlimited” at 6’8”, 325# vs. Gene Rowell of Fennimore 6’2”, 210#. The Fieldhouse came alive, as only the old house could, when “small town” got the takedown and back points and even louder when Rowell turned him again. For three minutes, Gene dominated, pushing the score to 11-3. Sensing the Milwaukee wrestler was gassed he ran a half, got too far out front and got rolled. Match over by fall at 3:47. The highs and lows of competition can change quickly.

Steve Schroeder was Fennimore’s first medal winner, first three-time State qualifier and two-time state place winner (4th/Junior, 5th/Senior). Steve’s only losses senior year being to Andy Rein 4-3 in the Badger Invitational and a 2-1 decision at State.

It would take a book to list everyone contributing to the growth of our Wrestling Program in 28 years of coaching at New Lisbon. The efforts of many provided major impetus for our success and my receiving this great honor. I wish I could list names of all because it involved more than the “sweat of the wrestlers.” Three coaches were involved for years; Dean Duescher, Kelly McCann and Dave Connor.

Our managers, video people, cheerleaders and wrestlerettes filled two buses! At home events, Moms made food and worked concessions and Dads helped with set-up, security and clean-up exemplifying exceptional parental support.

Dave Connor was our first state participant and placed sixth in 1977. In 1996 Brian Slater became the third “Four Time State Champion” and first “Four Time Bi-State Champion.” No other wrestler had run the table in both of those events.

Slater and Connor reside in the New Lisbon community and fortunately, both remain involved with wrestling. Brian is the Rocket’s head coach and has several State Champions under his guidance. Brian also sponsors his “old coach’s” fastpitch softball team!