Andy Olson knows that life
and football games can change
in a hurry.
Ten days ago, Olson was
living in Bellingham with his
wife and their two young
children. Then Spokane Shock
head coach Rob Keefe, who had
fired offensive coordinator Fred
Biletnikoff Jr. earlier that day,
called with a job offer.
“My wife and I spent a few
hours talking about our
options,” said Olson, who left
his job as a concrete laborer for
a construction company. “It was
an easy decision for me, because
it’s something I love to do. It’s
hard on our kids, because my
daughter is in preschool. It was
an opportunity I couldn’t pass
Two days later, Olson drove
across the state, arriving 20
minutes before last Tuesday’s
practice. He poured himself
into practice, videotape and
game-planning for a couple of
days and accompanied the team
on the road trip to Iowa. Olson
called most of the plays in
Spokane’s 43-42 loss, though
Keefe was on the field relaying
the plays to quarterback Kyle
“The reason we did it that
way was because I knew it
would be a hostile environment
and I wanted him to get his feet
under him,” Keefe said. “I’m a
prideful person, but I’m
definitely not stubborn. I have
my hands full. Taking on the
offense was really a one-week
putting my spin
on it and what I
want to see, but
I really believe in Andy.”
Olson had 220 receptions as a
Shock receiver from 2008-09.
Keefe tried to bring him back
last season when injuries hit the
receiver position with the idea
of eventually transitioning into
The 28-year-old Olson faces a
challenge similar to the one
Keefe, now 30, took on when he
was named head coach last year:
coaching players who were once
“He just said to be myself,”
Olson said of Keefe’s advice.
“My personality is to have a lot
of energy and be very positive. I
think that’s why he gave me this
chance, because he saw a lot of
himself in me.”
Olson played receiver at
Western Washington University,
earning All-Great Northwest
Athletic Conference first-team
honors three times.
“He brings a great attitude, he’s serious about football and he loves the game,” Rowley said. “He’s a stickler as far as the receivers because he was one, and he’s being pretty hard on me, which I like.”
Olson’s family will be reunited in Spokane later this week. Until then, he will be logging long hours to prepare for Friday’s home game against Kansas City.
“I’m still trying to catch up and get ahead. Last week I was with Keefe most of the time. This week I’m doing most of it by myself,” he said. “The coaches probably put four hours into every player’s one. Even though I’m working, it’s something I’m enjoying while I’m doing it so I have no complaints.”
The Shock committed 13 penalties
and five turnovers in the loss to Iowa.
After scoring on its first four
possessions, Spokane produced
touchdowns on just two of its last
eight. The Shock didn’t score in the
last 13 minutes. Iowa, which had three
turnovers, didn’t score in the final
“Yes, I’m irritated and disappointed
at the lack of mental focus,” Keefe
said. “It’s definitely unacceptable to
have poorly thrown balls, fumbled
snaps, to line up inappropriately, but I
believe we’re going through this for a
reason and I believe it’s going to stop
“Nobody has beaten us, we’ve
beaten ourselves. The good thing is
it’s all correctable.”
Spokane took its lumps on the field
against Iowa and in the training room.
Linebacker Antwan Marsh and
receiver Emery Sammons suffered
concussions on the same play as they
sandwiched an Iowa kick returner.
Receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku (turf
toe) watched Tuesday’s practice but
he expects to return soon. Defensive
lineman Terrance Taylor (ankle)
probably won’t play Friday.
“I don’t remember much about the
game,” Marsh said. “I asked (fullback)
Clay (Harrell) four or five times, ‘What
happened?’ He finally said, ’Twan, you
got hit in the head.’”
Marsh’s and Sammons’s status for
Friday will be determined later this
Normally division championships are celebrated with champagne showers in the locker room. The Spokane Indians settled for cheering and high fives on a crowded bus.
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