Feb 162009
 
Authors: Ariel SenaCalvillo

During his days in college, Erik Olson went to work during the weekend. The former Rams defensive end ranked in the top 10 in tackles, interceptions and games played in his years at CSU.

Olson gained enough notoriety on the field to earn a year-long ride in the NFL from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But nowadays Olson finds himself suiting up not in that green and gold number 28 jersey with the eye black and the shoulder pads, but in business attire.

Instead of weekends, he now works Monday though Friday for his alma mater.

Just a month ago Olson joined his next team — the College of Business —- as the newest director of development, bringing his career full-circle.

With an extensive background in both small and professional businesses, Olson came back to CSU ready to build on the strong foundation he once knew as a student.

After his tenure in the NFL phased out, Olson and three investors purchased a local Cold Stone Creamery.

From there, he would move on to purchase Uptown Liquors in southern Fort Collins, a store in which business associate John Burdik said Olson devoted himself to.

“People believed in his business,” Burdik said, adding that the confidence in his work that Olson oozed and his ability support customers sparked confidence in his patrons.

Olson’s drive and determination comes as no surprise to his longtime friend Anthony Cesario, who said since first meeting 13 years ago he’s recognized Olsen’s success in everything he’s attempted.

Olson speaks humbly about his résumé, looking back on the many turns his careers have taken him, and stresses that in this economy a “degree is now needed” to succeed.

Graduating with bachelor’s degree in business administration and computer information systems in 2000, Olson turned immediately to the NFL.

But after his stint in professional football and his time with his two businesses, Olson realized his degree was already outdated. Therefore, he resolved to return to CSU to embark on his masters in CIS, which he received in 2004.

From there, Olson went to work for both Hewlett Packard and Crunk Energy Drink. But the pace of his life changed dramatically. He had to rely on his past experiences with teamwork to guide him.

“When you step into a new job you learn how to play by the rules and win as a team,” Olson said.

Olson’s second reunion with the university comes with different motivation than the first, however. The first return, Olson said, was to “grow my professional business skills,” but this time Olson returned to “give back” to the community that always helped him.

But work is not the only motivation for Olson’s return. He wanted to create a welcoming environment for his two sons Brady, 6, and Luke, 4.

As a single dad, Olson said there is “limited time” with his sons, especially in a “crucial time in development.” So he hopes to teach his children a balance between work and personal life, an idea he hopes to spread to students at CSU.

“Give 100 percent in everything, but don’t cut your personal life short,” Olson said.

Staff writer Ariel Sena-Calvillo can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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