Like many recent college graduates, Corey Olson had some major decisions to make.
Olson, who had graduated from Western Illinois and had been on the coaching staff there for two seasons, was looking to the future.
"I decided I wanted to get into high school football," Olson said. "I felt I could have more of an impact on young men in the classroom and on the football field."
Olson will get his chance to have the ultimate impact after he was officially named football head coach at Palatine on Tuesday. He takes over after Rick Splitt stepped down last month.
"This is one of the best jobs in the state of Illinois," Olson said. "I want to thank coach Splitt, who really prepared me for this job."
Olson will inherit a team that is coming off its third consecutive MSL West title and second trip in a row to the Class 8A semifinals. He will return at least eight starters, including all-area players Johnny O' Shea and Jake Moertl along with quarterback DJ Angelaccio, who stepped in quite well in the playoffs.
"We are not going to compare ourselves to football teams of past," Olson said. "What we are going to do is try to get better every single day and continue to work toward our goals of winning the West and advancing in the state playoffs."
Olson, who grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, played offensive line at Western Illinois. After graduation, he stayed there for two seasons before making his way to Lincoln-Way Central. He then coached under Jim Rucks at Hoffman Estates and Bill Modelski at Conant before joining Splitt's squad two years ago as the offensive line coach.
"What is most important is that we are working toward building young men," Olson said. "That is the purpose, and winning is a by-product of that.
"I am going to help boys become men of empathy and integrity, who are responsible and willing to lead and put good into the world."
Palatine principal Gary Steiger said Olson's plan for that type of growth was a key to the decision-making process.
"Coach Olson knows football, but more importantly, he knows what it takes to build a team and develop student-athletes," Steiger said. "He has a passion for helping teenagers be successful on the field, in the classroom, and in life. His plan for the future of Palatine football combines our current strengths with his vision for a winning program. Our football program and players are in great hands with him leading the way."
Palatine Athletic Director Jerry Dobbs said that Olson's nearly 20 years of football coaching experience were also a huge factor.
"We feel Coach Olson is a great fit for us," Dobbs said. "Having served as an assistant coach this past year helped him gain familiarity with our program and our student-athletes. We're not only excited about the expertise he brings to our program, but also the enthusiasm he has for the kids and the sport."
Olson, who teaches Special Education at Palatine, lives in the Northwest Suburbs. He is married to former Lake Zurich High School and University of Notre Dame basketball star Alicia Ratay. They have three children.