As the snow begins to melt and the chill of winter fades into the warmth of spring, one thing is certain in Upper Arlington: lacrosse season is right around the corner.
For some kids, playing lacrosse is just as routine as brushing their teeth in the morning; it’s almost expected of them. However, for the first time since 1992, someone new will be leading the UA lacrosse program.
A big reason for the sport’s popularity in UA is becuse of the recurring success the high school program has had for the past 30 years. Ted Wolford has been the head coach of the Golden Bears for the past 25 years. During his tenure at UA, Wolford won 16 state championships, ten midwest championships and has amassed 460 wins. This past spring, the Golden Bears defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius on June 4 in the final of the OHSLA state tournament by a score of 17-5, giving UA and coach Wolford their 16th state championship.
Just 33 days later, Wolford announced that he would retire from his coaching position at UA effective immediately. Wolford has been touted by many of his peers as one of the most successful coaches in the history of Ohio lacrosse.
On Aug. 23 of this year, the UA Department of Athletics announced that former UA player and coach Kyle Olson would succeed Ted Wolford as the next head lacrosse coach of the Golden Bears.
Olson graduated from UA in 2001, where he led the Bears to a state championship and was named player of the year in Ohio at his position. Olson continued his lacrosse career in college, playing two seasons at Syracuse University and then two more at the Ohio State University. In 2009, Olson returned to UA as an assistant coach where he helped coach the Bears to a state runner up and then a state championship the following year in 2010.
Olson returns to UA from Hilliard Davidson, where he has been the head coach for the past four years. Olson is excited to be back at UA, where he and his family have 20 years of experience with the Golden Bear program.
“This was kind of like one of three jobs that I would pretty much do just about anything for,” Olson said.
The expectation around the lacrosse program will inevitably remain at the same level it has been at in the past: to win the state championship. Olson emphasized that one of his main goals is to “try to continue what Coach Wolford has built for the past 25 years.”
Senior captain and Denison University lacrosse commit Peter Klamar is eager to see what the upcoming season has in store with Olson at the helm.
“He’s won championships at UA and in college so he knows what it takes and he’s played at very high levels so he has a pretty solid lacrosse IQ,” Klamar said.
The outlook of the team this year is that they will pick up right where they left off this past spring at the top of the state.
“With the talent we have this year, I think he’s in a great position to continue the success of this program,” Klamar said.
Olson has also been praised for his character off of the field.
“I can’t tell you how many people called and recommended him. Out of everything they said to me, maybe ten percent of it was about is technical knowledge. Most of it was about his character, his love of Upper Arlington, and his love of lacrosse,” UA athletic director Tony Pusateri said in an interview with sports writer Dave Purpura of This Week Sports.
Upper Arlington is home to one of the most successful lacrosse programs in the state, and in Olson’s eyes, there is a big factor that sets UA apart from everyone else in Ohio.
“The players separate us by how hard they work, how much they put into it, how much they want it. Playing lacrosse at Upper Arlington is something you earn, it’s not something you can just go out there and do,” Olson said.
There is no doubt that the eyes of Ohio and of the midwest will be closely following Upper Arlington this year as coach Olson leads a new era of Golden Bear lacrosse.