Siblings Molly and Brett Olson share what it is to be siblings on the same team.
Coming from Bellevue, Washington, the sibling duo Molly and Brett Olson take on the track and field sport. Molly competes in the javelin while Brett competes in throws.
While track is a big part of their lives it is not their only interest. Molly is in her first year of graduate school at Azusa Pacific University and after college wants to be a missionary and then a middle school art teacher. Brett is a freshman, still creating his own path, he wants to make a difference and wants to serve people. He has an interest in being a firefighter, where he can make an impact.
Molly’s love for the sport started back when she was seven or eight years old. Back then she was a sprinter and since that moment her love only grew stronger. While she changed events every two years, she found her calling when she started college and was introduced to Javelin. Molly tested the waters with basketball but the track was where her heart was set on.
Brett’s love for it originated from his father. He started throwing in middle school, but when he got to high school he tried out a different sport, football. He played two vastly different sports with vastly different experiences. His experience with football was negative, as it was trying to be better than others and talking with disrespect towards one another. When he was a junior he had an overwhelmingly positive experience with track. He said that even though they were competing against each other there was still “great camaraderie.” When he was thinking about which sport he felt the most called to, he decided to step back from football, it was very controversial, but he stood firm in his decision.
Molly found her place here at Azusa Pacific. Her parents met at Seattle Pacific University when they were both competing in track and field events. APU head coach, Jack Hoyt, was on the team at Seattle Pacific four years before their parents. He was a grad assistant coach when they were there and helped their mom create new personal records for herself. When Hoyt came to APU, Molly’s mom urged her to go there and she fell in love with the campus.
Brett’s story is a little different, since he is from Washington, his love for the weather there greatly exceeds the weather in California. He wanted to stay in the Pacific Northwest but since his sister enjoyed it and pushed him towards it, he began to consider it. When he toured the campus he was open to the option but was sure he would not like it. Brett ended up feeling strongly called to come to APU.
“I put up with California to be at Azusa,” he said. Brett was confident in himself when he came to college. His only real competition was himself and working on his personal goals. In regards to track, there were not many nerves. Throughout high school, he kept his head down and did the work, so he felt ready for college.
When it comes to college athletes there is a lot of balancing that takes place, between school, sports and having a social life. Molly is an extrovert, meaning her freshman year she would be out from eight in the morning to midnight. She just wanted to hang out with people and make meaningful connections. “As an athlete, you need to have a different kind of time management,” she explained.
Brett leans more toward the introverted side. He likes to hang out with friends but he also likes to be with himself sometimes. During the season, the grind is on for him and it is all go; it is all class, sports and class again.
The thought of doubt often creeps into everyone’s mind, but for Molly, it was the start of her college career. She took on seven events, some she was stronger in and others she struggled with. Competing in seven events was more than she had ever done. During that time she was trying to figure out what event was her strength. That was the only time she faced doubts, not about her ability in the sport, but rather her choice in which event she would choose.
When doubt showed up for Brett, his body was getting worn out. When he played football, it was a high-impact sport and with every hit, the pain would stick around longer. He was trying to figure out what God was trying to tell him if this was his time to take a break from sports to give his body rest. Not only that but as he started getting more recognition, his main thought was, “I want to be humble and give glory to the Lord, is it possible to do that?” He didn’t want the recognition to get to him and make him self-focused. He never came close to quitting, when he finds something he loves, he doesn’t easily want to give it up.
Coach Hoyt led Molly to her love of javelin, as he is one of the best coaches in the nation. Her throwing personal record (PR) had doubled in four years. When she started she could throw 27 meters and then it went up to 250 meters. “What I like about track is that it is so individual and your coach can just tweak something and give you individual attention,” she said.
Something Brett learned about himself was that track is all individual, he can slow down and ease back, but he also learned why he does what he does. His path was spreading the gospel of Jesus. Every PR he gained, he would give all credit to the Lord. He holds the quote from his football coach close to him, “There is no better way to help yourself than to motivate others.” He would break out of his shell to encourage his friends. He wants to win every moment and how he does anything is how he does everything. Brett is very intentional in every moment and wants to make it count. He is very disciplined in what he does. “You are not going to want to do a lot of things in life a lot of times, but do it when you should,” he said.
What Molly learned about herself through track was that it is okay to rest, to slow down and embrace kindness to all. She started to not care what other people think and focus on what God thinks, it is no longer performing for anyone watching but performing for God.
“It doesn’t matter how I perform, my salvation and eternity have nothing to do with performance. I can go out and have fun and represent APU and the Lord. I ended up making myself more free,” she explained.
A note that she gave to her future self was that the only thing guaranteed is life and death and that spreading the Gospel is all that matters. It is important to her to honor God throughout this sport, and she does that by honoring God’s opinion and not focusing on what other people tell her.
Something that Brett tells his future self is that no matter what, “as I find either success or failure, remember what really matters.” In the end, God is good and that is all that matters. He has learned that being kind and starting up conversations with people at meets is beneficial, that we never know what is going through people’s minds, and that just saying hello can change someone’s life.
Molly was last year’s NCAA DII champion. When asked about it she said that it was a crazy feeling to experience and that she can’t take all of the recognition for it. She gives so much credit to her coach and especially to God. That morning everything fit together perfectly and worked for her benefit, she woke up thinking that she could win and she strove for that. She did not go in thinking that she would leave a champion but once she had that goal, she did not let anything get in her way. To get to this point she did not put too much pressure on it. It’s the relationships with her team that are more important. The atmosphere of the team is to work hard but this is a game and not the end of the world.
Between the two siblings, there is nothing but love, respect and honor for each other. Their family has been something they have both relied on for support, love and assurance. Since track is an individual sport, they are not trying to beat each other and maybe that’s why their bond is so strong. In different events they have different coaches, meaning they do not practice together. They have their own space to work on their goals, and this lets Brett form an identity outside of Molly. They work together to glorify God and put their bond around God and their love for each other.
They honor those who actively give glory away, those who do not take the credit for themselves but give it to God simply because it is He who got them there. Watching people they look up to grow with God’s grace helped them find ways to give their glory fully to God.