Grant Olson and Jack Egan were the closest of friends from the Class of 2010 at Wayzata High School. Olson had continued the tradition of tremendous linebacking for the Trojans, and Egan was an outstanding hybrid as an outside linebacker and defensive back.
Wayzata coach Brad Anderson lobbied with the Gophers to sign Olson. "They told me that they didn't recruit middle linebackers — that they moved players to that position in college," Anderson said Tuesday. "That was a mistake in Grant's case."
Olson went to North Dakota State and became a tackling machine on three FCS champions. He was an All-America in 2013.
"Jack went to West Point and played 'sprint football' — the other brand of football that Army plays with a 178-pound limit," Olson said. "Jack loved the speed of the game."
Lee Olson, Grant's father and a 1979 graduate of West Point, had talked with his football-playing sons, Luke and Grant, about making a trip for an Army-Navy game.
"That never happened, but the trip we did make to West Point was one of the neatest experiences of my life," Olson said. "We went for Jack's graduation in 2014. We walked around the grounds for a long time, with Dad pointing out places where he had gone to classes, trained, lived, and telling stories.
"He was a very proud member of the Long Gray Line."
On Saturday, Olson had flown into Houston to watch his wife — Amy Anderson of Oxbow, N.D. and now Amy Olson on the LPGA Tour — attempt to win the U.S. Women's Open on the Champions Club's Cypress Creek course.
Grant received a call on Saturday night that his father Lee, 63, with no known health problems, had died from a suspected heart attack. He had to absorb that information and then pass it along to Amy.
"Dad adored Amy and she was very close to him," Grant said. "It was really rough. She didn't get much sleep that night. This was probably the one time it was a good to have a rainout on Sunday. It gave her some time …"
Grant went quiet for a moment, then talked of the pride he had watching Amy, 28, fight for what would have been a first LPGA victory and a major championship on Monday.
He was back in Minnesota on Sunday, to be with his brother Luke and mother Betty. As they watched Monday's final round, Amy led by two shots on the back nine and this looked like the ultimate golf story:
Long-shot from North Dakota, playing with grief, singing quietly to herself "You Raise Me Up" for calmness late in the round, had a chance to be the Open champ.
Then, South Korea's A Lim Kim was able to close with three birdies on a miserable day, and Amy's one-over 72 — including a long birdie putt on No. 18 — gave her a tie for second, one back.
She packed up her stuff and headed to the airport, and was with Betty, Luke and Grant as they made funeral arrangements for Lee on Tuesday.
"Amy has been a great daughter-in-law," Grant said. "She went fishing with our dad, pheasant hunting with him, not because she loved those things but because he did."
Amy Anderson was winning 20 golf tournaments at NDSU at the time Grant was winning FCS titles. They didn't start dating until later, though, spending some time online as former Bison athletes.
"Our first date was in Fargo, our second in Portland, our third was in Minneapolis and our fourth was in Laramie, where I was grad assistant for Craig Bohl at Wyoming," Grant said.
A sports writer with Laramie visits on his resume said: "A young woman willing to make a detour to Laramie has to like a fellow."
Olson agreed with a slight laugh. The Anderson-Olson nuptials took place in June 2017, in the middle of Amy's golf schedule. Grant was an assistant at Indiana State then, and landed his current job as NDSU's linebackers coach with new coach Matt Entz in 2019.
The pandemic did allow more family time than the norm for Amy, Grant, Lee and Betty earlier this year. The LPGA tour didn't resume until July, the coaching schedule was reduced, and the Olsons spent a lot of time at the parents' lake place near New London.
"We're especially grateful of that extra time with Dad now," Grant said.
Lee Olson received his West Point appointment as the son of the town vet in Clara City, a tiny burgh near Willmar. He spent five years in the military after West Point, then went to work in the defense arm of Honeywell (which became ATK in 1990).
"Dad was a design engineer," Grant said. "He took a lot of international trips to U.S. allied countries. We heard that he was one of the world's leading experts on 25-millimeter weaponry, but he never talked about that with us.
"Luke and I could both tell you about his incredible knowledge on many other things. We'd see it even when watching Vikings games, maybe Gophers basketball games. He would break down what a player should do in a situation, and it always made sense."
Lee Olson coached youth football in Wayzata and then served on the board for youth sports in that area for over two decades.
Anderson, the former Wayzata coach, said: "In youth sports, some people just bring big ideas and don't produce. Lee Olson was always organized with his ideas, and carried through. That's why we affectionately gave him a nickname."