He was a force on both sides of the football in high school.
Same with basketball, dominating the offensive and defensive glass.
But it was on the rugby pitch that Coldstream’s Isaac (Ike) Olson saw a future in sports.
Olson, a three-sport star at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary, realized that future when he was named as a back on Canada’s Rugby 15s U20 men’s team.
“Wearing the Maple Leaf is huge, I’ll wear it with pride,” said Olson, 19, from his current home in Victoria where he’s a first-year general arts student at Camosun College, and just prior to heading to Vancouver to join the national squad flying out for a two-game exhibition series in Portugal. The two teams played Monday and again on Feb. 22.
Olson is expected to be part of the Canadian team that will play in the Americas Cup in Uruguay in June, and the U20 World Cup in Spain in September.
A Fulton grad in 2018, Olson played quarterback on offence for the football Maroons from September to November, and defensive end, terrorizing opposition quarterbacks and running backs to the point he was named a provincial all-star at the position.
Once the football pads were put away, Olson turned his attention to basketball, playing forward for his father, Dale, coach of the Maroons, and like his son before him a dominant force in high school and at the University of Victoria going after rebounds. The younger Olson was an Okanagan all-star in his Grade 12 year.
As the calendar rolled into spring, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Olson would turn his attention to rugby, dominating the pitch as opposition tacklers had trouble bringing him down at full pace.
“My love for rugby kicked in about Grade 9 or 10,” Olson said. “I started to play more in school and it just took off. I could play quite well and it turned into something that I thought I could really see a future in the sport.”
Olson was named Male Athlete of the Year and Top Male Rugby Player in the 2018 Rotary North Okanagan Athletic Awards.
In Victoria, Olson was playing for the club side Castaway Wanderers when U20 selection camps across the country were announced, including one in Vancouver. Olson was selected for the camp but could not attend due to finances.
When another camp was announced for Shawnigan Lake, just up the highway from Victoria, Olson’s coaches thought he deserved a shot at the national team, pulled some strings and got him a spot.
“It was a week-long camp that featured a number of skills and an inter-squad game,” Olson said. “Then they told me I’d made the team.”
Olson’s play not only caught the attention of Team Canada, but the Victoria-based Pacific Pride Performance Academy, a development academy for Team Canada, who signed Olson to a contract, meaning he gets paid to develop his rugby skills five days a week.
He also becomes a nationally carded athlete and will receive funding from Ottawa.