Olson Takes The Helm For Husky Beach Volleyball
SEATTLE – A coach with success at every level—club, collegiate, and national teams at home and abroad—Derek Olson now comes to Washington to head the Husky Beach Volleyball program. Today, Director of Athletics Jennifer Cohen announced Olson as the fourth Head Coach in program history.
A former standout on the AVP Tour, Olson brings a decade of coaching experience to Montlake, along with a full familiarity with the Pac-12, as he coached the past four seasons at the University of California. The last two years, Olson was Acting and Interim Head Coach of the Golden Bears, helping Cal to year-end national rankings of No. 9 in 2020 and No. 11 in 2021.
"Jen Cohen asked about my passion for beach volleyball and my story of who I am as a person and that was significant for me. I can't thank her and (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Jamaal Walton enough for having faith in me and the vision I have. We are going to build this program into national prominence and we are going to do it the right way. I couldn't be more excited to get this journey started!"
"We couldn't be more excited to welcome Derek and his wife, Stephanie, to our Husky family," said Cohen. "This is another great step in our commitment to Beach Volleyball and the student-athletes in our program. Derek has a unique set of experiences, including time as a head coach in the Pac-12, as well as strong value alignment that make him a perfect fit for us. He has a deep passion for using sport to better the lives of young women and we can't wait for him to get to campus and get started."
Olson has been influential in helping shape the future of the U.S. National Team on the beach, starting out coaching USA High Performance Camps in 2016 and moving on to multiple Head Coach and Assistant Coach roles, including serving as Head Coach for the U19 Boys National Team at the 2019 World Championships.
"After visiting campus and meeting with various athletic department staff, I knew right away that this department was dedicated to excelling in all phases of athletics," said Olson. "Perhaps more importantly to my wife Steph and I, I knew that this was a place that had a strong sense of community that cared for each other."
This past summer, Olson took on a challenging new adventure, as he was hired as the National Team Head Coach for Morocco, traveling to the African nation and helping Morocco qualify a men's duo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
During a long and successful pro beach playing career, Olson competed in 41 career events on the AVP Tour and in 14 career FIVB tour events. He also represented the United States in nine NORCECA events internationally. Olson had 13 top-10 finishes on the AVP Tour and three top-10 finishes in the FIVB. He qualified for the FIVB's prestigious Rio Grand Slam in 2016.
Beach Volleyball was the 22nd and most recent addition to Washington Intercollegiate Athletics, with the inaugural season in 2014. Olson succeeds Steve Whitaker who completed his fourth year leading the Huskies this past spring.
Olson's hiring is contingent upon clearance of the university's standard background check.