An Augustana graduate has been given the task of filling the cleats of legendary Vikings coach Paul Olsen.
Jake Shaver, an assistant coach at Illinois State who captained the Vikings’ cross country team in 2005 and graduated from Augustana in 2006, was named Tuesday to lead the school’s men’s track and field and cross country programs beginning next fall.
Olsen announced his retirement from coaching at the end of the 2017-18 academic year in November after working the last 52 years as the Vikings’ cross country coach and the past 50 seasons as the head of the track and field program.
Shaver, who has also worked as the head coach of NCAA Division III programs at Fontbonne and Millikin, calls it a “privilege’’ to return to his alma mater.
“The incredible legacy of Paul Olsen and his tremendous impact on the lives of generations of Augie alumni will inspire me every day,’’ Shaver said. “I will work hard to ensure a continued outstanding track and field experience and program success going forward.’’
Director of athletics Mike Zapolski believes that the program will benefit from Shaver’s experience as an Augustana athlete.
“Jake has a solid understanding of the special culture and ethos of these outstanding programs, plus he brings his own experiences from several other coaching positions in the region over the last 12 years,’’ Zapolski said. “Jake’s enthusiasm and passion for cross country and track will serve him well in the recruiting process and allow for a seamless transition in the months ahead.’’
A graduate of Normal University High, Shaver earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Augustana in 2006 and earned a master’s in teaching from National-Louis University in Chicago in 2009.
He worked as an assistant coach at the University of Chicago from 2006-10 and was the head coach at Fontbonne from 2012-13 and Millikin from 2013-14 before joining the Illinois State program in 2014.