Hunter Olson fell in love with the game of football at age 5, inspired by the camaraderie of the teams. He takes the game seriously.
“If you don’t have someone in your corner on the field, I mean, who do you really have?” he said.
His father, Brent, said his son enjoys being part of a team and learning.
“He takes instruction well,” Brent said. “He always wants to better himself in a lot of ways, but of course on the football field. It’s kind of a big thing for him, is just having the camaraderie and the team and learning through that.”
After graduating Sunrise Mountain High School, Hunter headed across the country to attend Central College. He wasn’t sure about playing college ball, but Central College was too good of an opportunity pass up.
Central has been a dominant force for a while. Despite its status as a Division III program, the school is the fourth-winningest football team in NCAA since 1975 with a .793 winning percentage.
“It took some convincing from my parents and other people,” Hunter said. “But Central was really the only place that recruited me, and if I was going to play football, I didn’t want to play at a school that doesn’t win. Definitely them being a playoff team every year made me want to go there.”
Since taking over the program 17 seasons ago, head coach Jeff McMartin has led the Dutch to a 126-42 record. He is certainly happy Olson decided to play for him.
“Hunter’s got good size, good strength, and he’s very physical,” McMartin said. “You’ve got a guy who is just at his best when there’s contact. He really loves the physical nature of the game. He plays with a lot of confidence, and that’s a really important part of the game.
“His teammates see him as a hard worker and a really good football player. The bigger the challenge, the more he’s excited about it.”
These days, Hunter is happy he chose to play college football.
“It’s pretty great,” Hunter said. “We’re like a family, really. It’s hard to explain sometimes, but we’re just a bunch of guys who look out for each other and want to see each other do well.”
McMartin said Hunter is doing a good job rising to the challenge that comes with playing for a successful program. Hunter admitted there is added pressure to win.
“You know everybody is fighting for a spot and your expectation is to win the conference every year,” he said. “So, if you don’t it’s a heartbreak.”
His time at Central hasn’t always been smooth sailing. During his freshman season, Hunter suffered injuries to his hand and his foot that forced him to miss time. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of his sophomore season.
Hunter said he made the best of what was put in front of him.
“It kind of sucked, but I kind of saw it coming,” he said. “Everything was getting canceled. After realizing what was going on, I figured I had to make something out of nothing and at least try to get up the depth chart in the meantime.”
McMartin appreciates Hunter’s ability to put his head down and work hard to overcome obstacles in his path. He believes that it will make him a better football player in the end.
“He’s overcome some injuries,” McMartin said. “Staying healthy is going to be really important for him, but the best is really yet to come for him. He’s just going to get better and better, and it’s really exciting to see as well.”
Hunter is an engineering major at Central. Brent said his son has always liked to work with his hands.
“He loves to put stuff together,” he said. “He would always play with blocks or Lego. I think the aspect of working with your hands and putting something together and building something that you could be proud of is one of the reasons that led him to (Central’s) engineering program.”
When he graduates, Hunter hopes to follow in Pat Tillman’s footsteps and join the military.
“Deep down, he’s a patriot who loves our country,” Brent said. “Of course, I know that the aspect of the Green Berets and the Navy SEALs and the kind of people they are and the way the training is, is something that interests him. He loves a challenge.”
In the end, Brent is extremely proud of his son and the path he has carved for himself.
“Sometimes it might not be completely evident because he’s kind of a man of few words, but more than a football player, deep down, he’s a great person,” he said.
“He enjoys friendships; he enjoys camaraderie. Going to Central, with it being a little bit of a smaller school, whether it be the football field or the classroom, he’s going to be able to garnish some relationships that he’ll be able to maintain, cherish and utilize for the rest of his life."