The longest tenured head coach in the UW-Parkside athletic department is stepping down.

Parkside athletic director Andrew Gavin announced in a news release Friday that the head men’s golf coaching job will be converted to a full-time position. Mark Olsen, who served the program as the part-time men’s golf coach the last 18 seasons, will step away from the program.

“Coach Olsen has given generously of his time, talent and treasure to the Parkside men’s golf program for nearly two decades, and numerous student-athletes have had an incredible experience thanks to his commitment and leadership,” Gavin said in the release. “His passion for not only the men’s golf program but for all of Parkside athletics is unquestioned and possibly unmatched.

“We will miss having him as our head coach, but we know ‘Coach O’ will continue to be a presence at our events and in our department.”

Olsen, who’s also the head boys’ golf coach at Central High School, called the move “bittersweet,” but in an email to the News he said he understood the need for a full-time coach and that he wasn’t prepared for that time commitment.

“I realize that hiring a full-time coach is truly in the best interests of the Parkside golf program going forward,” Olsen wrote. “I was not ready to accept the additional work that would be required by moving from part-time, and so a tough decision had to be made.

“At this point in my life, I did not want to spend any more time in meetings or sitting in an office in front of a computer. I could spend the whole day on the practice range, putting green or course, but not in performing the necessary bureaucratic tasks that can make a coach’s life miserable.

“My motivation for coaching has always revolved around the young people under my guidance. I don’t have much of an ego when it comes to my personal accomplishments. I just enjoy the personal interaction and watching players grow as young adults. I will truly miss that aspect.

“All this being said, I will continue to do my best to support the program in any way I can.”

During Olsen’s tenure, he was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2005 after guiding the Rangers to the GLVC championship. Twice his team was awarded the GLVC Sportsmanship Award and in 2003-04 earned the Chancellor’s Award for the highest GPA in the athletic department.

Olsen led teams to the NCAA Division II super regionals in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2013, and had players qualify as individuals in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2014.

This past fall, 2007 graduate Corey Sell was inducted into the Parkside Athletics Hall of Fame. Under Olsen’s guidance, Sell became the program’s all-time leading scorer, twice earned All-GLVC accolades and qualified for the NCAA regionals with the team and as an individual three times.

Parkside will immediately begin a national search for a full-time head men’s golf coach.

Mike Johnson