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Bethel Celebrates Jim Olson’s 40 Years of Service

For 40 years, Jim Olson has contributed to the Bethel community by donating athletic training and physical therapy services to help Bethel student-athletes continue playing.

By Aiyanna Klaphake ’20

December 19, 2018 | 11 a.m.

Bethel Celebrates Jim Olson’s 40 Years of Service

Jim Olson’s years of volunteer service to Bethel were recognized during a football game at Bethel this past fall. (Photo Credit: Carl Schmuland)

“They can put a lot of awards on walls,” Jim Olson says, “but at the end of life there’s one thing you’re supposed to be doing, and that’s making a difference.”

Making a difference is exactly what Olson has been doing at Bethel for the past 40 years. Since 1978, Olson has volunteered his time, talent, and expertise to assist Bethel’s athletic training program. As a skilled physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, and owner of Motion Care Physical Therapy in Shoreview, Minnesota, Olson’s generosity has helped student-athletes dealing with difficult injuries continue playing and he has instructed a new generation of athletic trainers.

“Being [at Bethel] has made me a better person. Students and staff have touched my life. It really goes both ways. What you give away is what you’re going to get back.”

— Jim Olson, a skilled physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, and owner of Motion Care Physical Therapy in Shoreview, Minnesota

In the 1970s, Olson worked with Bethel athletic trainers, including current Director of the Undergraduate Athletic Training Program Neal Dutton, to attain 1,800 hours of experience in order to become eligible to sit for the athletic trainer certification test. After gaining certification, Olson returned to Bethel as a volunteer. Decades later, Olson continues to serve class after class of grateful students.

As one of only a select number of Minnesota schools with an accredited athletic training major, Bethel’s program especially emphasizes the importance of clinical experience and high academic standards. Students aspiring to be athletic trainers receive unique opportunities, such as working clinical rotations with the Minnesota Vikings or the Minnesota Wild, because of Bethel’s advantageous location in the Twin Cities. Faculty not only oversee students, but are also in charge of medical care for Bethel athletes. In fact, about half the responsibilities of the athletic training faculty are clinical. Each athlete is assigned to a specific trainer, which is a remarkably uncommon level of care for a college athletic program of any size. Bethel’s program is even further distinguished by its distinctly Christian perspective on a field of healthcare that recognizes the importance of meeting both a person’s physical and spiritual needs.

Olson’s significant contributions to that program are greatly appreciated. As a dual-credentialed professional boasting his own patented techniques and experience working with a number of different organizations, including the USA Olympics, Olson’s skills are in high demand across the nation and even around the globe. “No one in the world is doing what he is doing,” Professor of Human Kinetics Jamie Dolieslager says. “We’ve had two seniors do rotations with him this year. They walk away with clinical knowledge that I don’t even get.”

At halftime during a football game this fall, Bethel honored Olson in a show of appreciation for the countless hours he has volunteered over the years and the invaluable service he continues to provide.

“I’m not supposed to be done yet, not supposed to be done caring, teaching… giving whatever talents I have,” Olson says. “Being [at Bethel] has made me a better person. Students and staff have touched my life. It really goes both ways. What you give away is what you’re going to get back.”

“In part it’s the kinds of students and the kinds of athletes we get at Bethel,” Dutton says of why Olson keeps coming back. “But it’s also that he is valued… We get that he is really good at what he does. And it’s the friendships that are developed.”

“I think relationships over the years have kept him here,” Dolieslager agrees. “Jim loves people. I think Bethel has great people, and there’s a great need for him here. He fulfills a need and has answered a calling he believes God put on him—a calling to help people.”

Athletic Training student helping an athlete.

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