Student athletes in Layton, Utah, were overcome with emotion when they were surprised by their incredible coach with an early homecoming from his Afghanistan deployment. Andrew Olson teaches history at Northridge High School and has been in the school system for about three years coaching football and basketball. Olson told his students in the fall of 2018 that he would soon leave to serve his country as a captain in the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan for about a year. The announcement by Olson left a lasting mark on the boys who remember without fear or hesitation how their coach accepted the deployment.
“The minute he got the call he was going to be deployed, he was ready for it with his whole heart,” junior Colby Browning said to KSTU. “He was ready to go serve our country and leave his family. He is the man.”
Olson was supposed to be gone until October but came home on March 1, a change credited to the U.S. military’s plan to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan.
Olson has spent the weekend with his wife, Tina Olson, and their two young boys.
On March 4, Olson was ready to return to school to shock the rest of his family.
A room full of teenage boys sat at Northridge High and told they were about to hear a speech from a guest speaker.
When Olson ran through the door, the room exploded with excitement at the sight of their beloved coach.
The student-athletes rushed their coach, throwing their arms around him like a child greets a father.
“With being a teacher, coach and in the military, he lives to serve others,” Tina Olson told “Good Morning America.” “He gets the most pride and excitement when he helps people accomplish something.”
Tina Olson knew the high school boys would be excited to have their coach back because they know he cares about them.
“He loves them. They’re like his little brothers or kids,” she said. “He’s a tough coach, very stern and expects a lot but I think it helps the kids respect him because they know he does it from love.”
Olson’s commitment to serving others has taught his student athletes that the toughest fighters are the ones who are willing to serve others.
“He’s taught me so much about hard work and commitment, he showed that he really cared about my team and their success,” high school athlete Aaron Tanner said. “He set a great example by committing to serve our country.”
Olson loved being reunited with his family and students and plans to spend a few weeks at home with his boys before resuming his teaching and coaching job at school.
“It was an emotional day,” Olson said. “I care about those kids a lot and it was humbling to see that reciprocated.”