Corvallis, Ore. --Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis are household names in perhaps the most revered of athletic competition, Olympic track and field.
One name, however, is not scribbled on a top-ten list.
“Two things I go to the track meet for is officiate and be with my friends," said Dennis Olafson.
Olafson has been the coordinating official for the last three Olympic trials. Recently he was selected for the U.S. Track and Field Association Officials Hall of Fame. He will be inducted at a special ceremony November 30 in Ohio.
“It’s not something I thought about happening so it had to sort of grow on me how important it was," said Olafson. "It’ll be very joyous,”
A former track star, Olafson never believed he was meant for officiating, until his coach Don Spinas introduced it to him.
“He was able to get me into officiating by just having me come back after graduating high school and officiate a few meets and I found I enjoyed it,” said Olafson.
Olafson has spent 52 years on the sidelines officiatinga Pac-12 championships, national championships, the Prefontaine Classic and more.
“Most people are not cut out to be officials but there’s a certain personality type that gravitates towards officiating in all these sports," said Oregon Track Club Officials Commitee Chairperson Dave O'Brien. "Be precise, be accurate, be fair. He fills all those very well.”
To Olafson, it’s not just about being a good official, but a good person as well.
“Very easy to get along with," said O'Brien. "He relates as well to the first year official as he does to the veteran, like myself."
That part of the job matters as much to Olafson, if not more than a spot in the hall of the fame.
“By treating everybody as my friend that’s officiating things go much smoother," said Olafson. "I enjoy it more. They enjoy it more."
Olafson is only the second Oregon official to be inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame.
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