It's a Family Thing
By Suzy Frisch, Photo by Mark Luinenburg
Left to right: Ed Sr., Tommy, and Ed Olson Jr.
Tommy Olson grew up obsessed with Gopher football. Attending every home game with his family, he spent hours playing football with his brother, Eddie, in their Mahtomedi backyard, which became a field adorned with a University of Minnesota “M,” goalposts, and lights. Their father, Ed Olson Sr., (B.A.S. ’83), played for the Gophers from 1978 to 1982, and Tommy and Ed Jr. yearned to follow in his footsteps.
That’s exactly what both have done. Ed Jr. played on the offensive line for the Gophers from 2010 to 2013, and Tommy is now a senior center. “I take a lot of pride in my career, because I love coming here knowing that my brother and dad came here, and I get to carry the legacy on,” he says.
This season, Tommy will trade in his number 53 for a jersey with number 58, the number both his father and brother wore. Playing alongside his brother, as he did for two seasons, was truly special for Tommy, including finishing out Ed Jr.’s football career together on the field during the Texas Bowl.
Attending the U was an easy decision for Ed Olson Sr., who had several offers from other Big Ten schools. When the Gophers offered him a spot on the roster, he didn’t have to think twice. “It’s a great school and a great education, and then being able to play that level of football close to home and be a part of the collegiate football experience was pretty good,” says Olson, who earned a business degree.
Olson and his wife, Kelly, a University of Minnesota, Duluth alumna, were thrilled when both of their sons decided to play for the Gophers. “It was always their thing, to be a Golden Gopher, and staying close to family was important to them,” says Ed Sr. “It’s nice to have that experience and have the legacy continue. It will be sad when it’s all over because it’s been a big part of our lives.” —S. F.